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“We weren’t even allowed to have cellphones back then. We used land lines from the building to call our parents,” Gross said. “When I evacuated for the earthquake, I already knew from Twitter what was happening. On 9/11 there was so much confusion about what was going on, even from the major news outlets. There were reports that the White House and Capitol had been attacked; I definitely remember that being reported. Nobody knew what was accurate and what wasn’t.”
Rep. Robert Aderholt
“I knew then that this was no normal day.”
Rep. Robert Aderholt’s day centered on his wife and young daughter.
“It was the first day of day school for my 2 1/2-year-old daughter,” the Alabama Republican said. “My wife and I were just going to meet the teacher that day, and then I was going straight to the Capitol.”
The Aderholts took separate cars, but upon leaving the school they followed the same stretch of road for a while. That’s when news came that the Pentagon had been hit.
“I knew then that this was no normal day and that I wouldn’t be going to the Capitol,” Aderholt said.
He flagged down his wife, and they pulled over to watch the news at the only place that had live television coverage: the retail sets at Best Buy.
“We decided then that we wanted to get our daughter out of D.C.,” he said. “We just started driving south.”
“There were no more instructions to be given.”
Daniel Chao’s memories of 9/11 begin with a weather forecast.
“It was a pleasant day,” he said. “Sunny and slightly windy — an average September day.”
On that average September day, Chao had plans to finish a memo for a committee and then head to a markup. The legislative assistant for Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.) had work on his mind when the first plane hit the twin towers.
But then the second plane hit, and shortly after that Chao remembers seeing a vibration run through the windows of his Longworth Building office.
“It was just a small vibration,” he said. “It could’ve been somebody doing construction.”
That small vibration was the result of a plane crashing into the Pentagon miles away, which, when it was reported on the news, tipped Chao off to the fact that America was under attack.