Where were you?

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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.

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