The tenth anniversary of September 11th, with its commemorations and recollections, is all over the news and in the forefront of our thoughts. In addition to your memories of the day, we’re interested in what you recall about the weeks after the attacks. Were you working or living on the Hill in the fall of 2001? What changes did you notice, around you or within yourself?

October brought the anthrax attacks and the passage of the USA PATRIOT Act. Did you work in an affected office? Help write the bill or work on its journey through Congress? Were you responsible for updating your office’s emergency procedures or buying gas masks? Write about your experiences in the comments, or email them to us and we’ll publish them.

To start off, here are a few memories from USCHS staff. Our offices are on the Hill, across the street from the Hart Senate Office Building.

Randy Groves, at the time a Hill staffer:
In the aftermath of 9-11, Washington DC in general and Capitol Hill in particular became a totalitarian police state. The day before, entry into my office in the Rayburn Building was fairly simple. The day after, assault weapon-toting police officers stood on every corner and the line to get into Rayburn stretched halfway down C Street. I will never forget the words of a Capitol Police sergeant, “We’re at war.”

Ron Sarasin, USCHS president:
As many will recall, the VFW issued gas masks to all their employees and employees of the building’s tenants. In addition, the Society brought in an extra supply of water and purchased heater meals (meals that are packaged to last several years and heated with a chemical reaction to water which is supplied in the meal package). We will be able to feed our staff for at least three days (or longer) if we were required to stay in the building because of some event at the Capitol. We have replaced the meals, as their shelf life has expired, several times since September 11, 2001. We also purchased a first aid aid trauma kit for the office.

Diana Wailes, Vice President, Merchandising:
Our stores closed for weeks, dramatically affecting income. Fear of impending attacks caused economic drops–people were afraid to spend not knowing what the future would bring after a leading world economic trade facility had been destroyed. This halt to our income caused our programming and publications activity to come to screeching halt. It took about a year for everything to get back to “normal.”