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 I used to work with 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 of DC/Northern Virginia). I had “slugged” to work.
Commuter ride sharing, or "slugging" as is is colloquially known, was started in the Northern Virginia and Washington D.C. metro area. Basically, you park your car in a commuter lot, get in line with a bunch of other people, and wait for a driver to show up (also someone going to work in DC). Then two random strangers get in the car of another random stranger, and all three of you take the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) 3 (which requires 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 distinctly 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 this was a life-changing decision. Had I gone into the Pentagon, I would have been meeting in the very section that was struck when terrorist crashed American Airlines flight 77 into the building at 9:37 EDT. I was very familiar with the Pentagon and still knew several people who worked there. I actually enjoyed walking around what was essentially a big museum, so it is also fairly likely I may have been taking a stroll around the outermost E-ring to visit with someone or just look at the artwork. Had I been doing that, I probably wouldn't be here.
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.