Where were you?

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6, ESV)

Yesterday, my wife reminded me that tomorrow (well, now today) is September 11th.  I have to admit, it sort of "snuck up" on me.  She mentioned that a Facebook group she is part of had a discussion about "Where were you on 9/11/01?"

This caused me to reflect on where I was that fateful morning.

I served in the U.S. Army from 1989 to 2001.  My last duty station was at the Pentagon.  After I got out of the Army, my first job was working as a contractor for the Army.  I worked for a small company in Northern Virginia on a contract at U.S. Army Material Command headquarters in Alexandria, just a few miles south of the Pentagon. In my role as an information security engineer, I still had many dealings with folks at the Pentagon, and frequently attended meetings in the “Five Sided Puzzle Palace."

On the morning of September 11, 2001, I had arranged to meet some folks at the Pentagon. This was an “ad-hoc” meeting, basically whenever I showed up we would meet.  They knew I worked a few miles away, and could take the Metro (subway) from Alexandria to the Pentagon. Also that morning, I had done something very different for my typical morning commute from Stafford (were we lived about 30 miles south). I had “slugged” to work.

Slugging,” or commuter ride sharing, was started in the Northern Virginia and Washington D.C. metro area. Basically, you park in a commuter lot, get in line with a bunch of other people, and two random strangers get in the car of another random stranger, and all three of you take the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) 3 (three people in the car) lane up I-95 into Washington DC. So on the morning of September 11, 2001, I slugged to work, and the driver dropped me and the other passenger off in the south parking lot of the Pentagon. I remember standing in the parking lot, debating whether to go ahead and go into the Pentagon for this ad-hoc meeting, or take the subway down to my office, get some coffee, check email, and come back up later. Coffee won me over, and it was a life-changing decision. Had I gone into the Pentagon, I would have been meeting in the very section that was struck when American Airlines flight 77 was crashed into the building.

Proverbs 19:21 says, “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” I often tell people, God was watching out for me that day. I sincerely believe this. As I look back over the events of my life, I see many examples where one slightly different decision could have changed my life (or even ended my life) in a dramatic way.

October 8, 2001, (Columbus Day) I visited the Pentagon and took several photos of the damage of my last duty station.  This is the first time I've ever shared these photos.