Voices from 9/11: Readers share feelings, emotions, experiences
Michael L. Albarelli
Craig W. Sincock
Roman"">Michael L. Albarelli, Army Communications-Electronics Command at Fort Monmouth, N.J.
Roman"">John Bartoli, Government Printing Office
Roman"">Sandra Borden, Coast Guard's Ports and Waterways
Safety System Program
Roman"">Sarah Farrell, American Management Systems
Roman"">Susan Fisher, Army Information Management Support
Roman"">Nancy L. Johnson, Marine Corps Logistics Base in
Roman"">Randy Lantz, Defense Department contractor
Roman"">Anita Lewis, Marine Corps Logistics Base
Roman"">Lynda Lukschander, Marine Corps' Navy-Marine Corps
Internet Program Management Office
Roman"">Jesus Mena, former IRS artificial intelligence
Roman"">Ron Miller, Federal Emergency Management Agency
Roman"">Robert Otto, U.S. Postal Service
Roman"">David Reiss, Treasury Department
Roman"">Craig W. Sincock, U.S. Army Chief Information
Roman"">W.E. Weeks, Altus Air Force Base, Okla
Michael L. Albarelli, Director of
the Office of Homeland Security for the Army Communications-Electronics Command at Fort
Roman"">In March of 2002, I was offered an opportunity to build a new mission area for the
Army Communications-Electronic Command in homeland security. In this capacity, I
established an Office of Homeland Security (HLS) and championed the use of CECOM R&D
technologies to support homeland security missions.
Roman""> The decision to accept this challenge changed my life significantly from that day
forward. My responsibilities quickly expanded from just the R&D center to include all
of the CECOM centers and then to act as the interim leader and executive agent for the
Army Materiel Command.
Roman""> The goal of the CECOM office was to pull together the entire command, control,
communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance community to
develop a partnership among the C4ISR program offices, the Materiel Command's major
subordinate commands, joint-service groups and civilian agencies to formulate plans for
Roman"">These plans focus on applying near-term C4ISR technology, products and services
from successful Army programs that provide the soldier with lightweight digital
capabilities to better see the enemy first.
Roman"">It was apparent to me that the technology used in the classic Army tactical ground
mission of search and destroy was closely related to HLS search and rescue. Developing a
plan to implement this concept continues to be a day-to-day effort. On average, I spend
three days a week on the road and have given about three briefings a week since accepting
Roman"">Technology transfer from military to civil applications is generally agreed to
represent an important potential contribution to enhance the effectiveness of first
responders, but this is clearly not yet a recognized Army function and one that continues
as a work in progress at this time.
John Bartoli, printing specialist at
the Government Printing Office
Roman"">Unreality TV. I watched the events of Sept. 11 unfold on a tiny TV that a
co-worker had hidden in his desk. The smoke pouring out of the first tower, the repeated
slow-motion shots of the jet plowing into the second tower, both towers collapsing one
after another with that menacing black cloud chasing people down the streets, the burning
Pentagon, all took place on a screen not much larger than that of a pocket PC.
Roman"">It seemed like make believe to me until I looked out a window at that same black
cloud, threatening to engulf the capitol dome, but this cloud came from the Pentagon
across the river.
Roman"">Later, as I watched the traffic jam on North Capitol Street, I heard rumors of
bombs discovered at the State Department and Union Station. The plane that went down in
Pennsylvania could have been targeted for the Capitol itself'destroying many more
lives, including my own.
Roman"">At first, I was angry and resolved to go back to work as soon as the doors were
open to show 'them' that they could not disrupt my life.
Roman"">Many months later while surfing the Internet I discovered my name on a list of
World Trade Center survivors. It wasn't me, of course, but another person with my
name. However, it brought out all those feelings again. Is there a reason so many people
were vaporized? Is my survival dependent only on chance circumstance? I don't have
the answers anymore. I just pay attention. I don't want to be left behind.
Borden, project manager of the Coast Guard's Ports and Waterways Safety System
Roman"">D'j' vu was my most overwhelming feeling on Tuesday, Sept. 11, and has been
almost every day since.
Roman"">I work within sight of the Pentagon and had a ringside seat from the roof of Coast
Guard headquarters. The attack brought to mind both conscious thoughts and the emotions I
experienced as a child living near a war zone'Fidel Castro's battlefields in the
hills near the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay.
Roman"">The unknown, the smoke trailing upwards in the distance, the paradox of such a
tragedy taking place on a sunny day. Shouldn't such a horrific day be overcast or
Roman"">After escaping Cuba, I lived in Key West, Fla., when the Army took over the island
to establish defenses for the Cuban missile crisis. The thought of fear never crossed my
mind, but at times I pondered the intense sadness and the insanity of what was happening.
Roman"">Before leaving the office on Sept. 11 to make my way home to Crystal City in
Arlington, Va., shrouded by the smoke of the burning Pentagon, I sent an e-mail to several
international colleagues to tell them I was OK. I received replies of support from
Germany, Russia, England, Panama and Norway.
Roman"">Later, I hosted a meeting the week after Thanksgiving in Baltimore to work on the
Automatic Identification System, a communications system using transponders for ships. The
event was well attended by the international technical community, whose members were
determined not to let concerns about flying keep them from working on a technology useful
to ship navigation and homeland security.
Roman"">On a personal note, my daughter, who was working in England, was laid off after
Sept. 11. She and I made a pilgrimage to the Twin Towers site in November. My son, who
works for an airline, had the job of notifying personnel that they were laid off.<>
Roman"">Despite that, my family looks at life positively and wants to express our
gratitude to the first responders, especially the Arlington County, Va., firefighters.
Roman"">Sarah Farrell, member of the homeland security team in
the public sector group at American Management Systems Inc. in Fairfax, Va.<>
style="font-family:Arial;mso-bidi-font-family:" Times New Roman"">
Roman"">Like many Americans, I was deeply impacted by the tragic events of Sept. 11.
Roman"">Each and every one of us lost something that day. Maybe it was someone we love: a
friend, a mom or dad, a brother or sister, a son or daughter. Maybe it was a place: an
office, a favorite coffee shop. Or maybe it was a thing: a cell phone, a computer, a
Rolodex. Maybe it was something intangible: a bit of our youth, our innocence, our sense
Roman"">For me, it was a schoolmate, Mark, a 26-year-old futures trader who worked in the
World Trade Center. Whatever it was that we as individuals lost that day has brought us
together and has strengthened us as a nation.
Roman"">As I reflect on the past year, I struggle to find the right words to express my
feelings. Many come to mind: shock, loss, grief, sadness, anger, more sadness, leaders,
heroes, stronger, braver, prouder.
Roman"">Every morning, as I enter my cubicle, I am inspired by the words spoken on Sept.
20 of last year by our great leader, George W. Bush: 'We will not tire; we will not
falter; we will not fail.' For the over 3,000 'Marks' we lost on Sept. 11,
for their families and for our nation's future, we must take those words to heart and
live them everyday. We must appreciate each day as a gift and treat each other with care,
regardless of race, gender, ethnicity or religion. God bless America!
Susan Fisher, acting director of the
Army's Information Management Support Center
Roman"">The Sept. 11 attack on the Pentagon was a horrifying event, and I will forever
mourn the loss of my friends and co-workers. But I also came away with a great admiration
for the ordinary people who work in the Pentagon.
Roman"">Early on Sept. 12, I made my way through the smoky halls to the last remaining
office space our organization had and wondered how many people would be there to help. I
was overjoyed to see most of the staff, military, civilian and contractor personnel also
following makeshift signs to the Army Information Management Support Center's new
home'a very recently acquired room set up for 24 people. It didn't matter that
the roof was still on fire or that an upended wastebasket was prime seating. All 120 of us
picked out a small piece of a desk and got to work on the recovery.
Roman"">This cooperative spirit has carried us through this year. We held the hands of
families waiting for news of the missing and cried together at the funerals of our
director and our co-workers who were lost. We waded into pitch-black, flooded spaces to
recover equipment. We configured replacement computers around the clock and action
officers suddenly found themselves as acting division heads and excelled.
Roman"">Our base of supported customers has almost tripled, and our team keeps meeting the
challenge. I am honored to be associated with these ordinary people who have continued to
do most extraordinary things.
L. Johnson, computer specialist, Marine Corps Logistics Base in Barstow, Calif.
Roman"">On Sept. 11, the nation was changed undoubtedly.
Roman"">As for myself, it made me reflect on how much I actually took my freedom for
granted. My father was a commander in the Navy, so I have always been patriotic. But that
day, my life and the lives of others changed forever.
Roman"">I now am more grateful and proud to be an American, where I can read, write and
worship as I choose. I count this as a blessing everyday and talk to my children about it
Roman"">I am honored to work for the Marine Corps as a computer specialist and am very
thankful for the men and women who serve and protect our great country. God bless America.
Randy Lantz, Defense Department
Roman"">I worked for the government for many years doing antiterrorism and bomb disposal
work. I had switched to the safer private sector to work in computer science and raise a
Roman"">I thought I had seen all the government work I wanted to see. The attacks changed
my perspective. I traveled to work with the Justice Department and recently began work for
the Defense Department on a cutting edge combat project I will not mention.
Roman"">I am working hard now to make sure that the project works and contributes to the
safety and security of all Americans.
Roman"">My family is also working on safety and security projects for schools and
nonprofit groups. As a former member of the 82nd Airborne Division, I feel that volunteer
service today is more important than ever. This is no time for partisan politics; it is
time to serve in any way you can.
Roman"">Anita Lewis, head of the Communications Division at the Marine
Corps Logistics Base in Barstow, Calif.<>
" Times New Roman"">
Roman"">After a year, the terror and tragedy of Sept. 11 remains a permanent horrible
Roman"">The tragedy has changed my way of life and embedded the meaning of trust. At the
time of the tragedy, I was getting ready to go to work and my only thoughts were on what I
was planning to accomplish for the day.
Roman"">When the breaking news announced the attack at the Pentagon, my thoughts quickly
raced to my friends that worked there.
Roman"">As the head of the Communications Division, I found that day and afterwards that
e-mail and Internet services were seriously challenged.
Roman"">The work force urgently sought updated information, and the technology provided
them with unfolding news at the fingertip.
Roman"">Throughout the weeks, we found that our Marine Corps IT services were reliable and
dependable regardless of the heavy communications traffic. As a civilian Marine, the
tragedy struck at my American freedom, but it did not diminish.
Roman"">As Americans came together with amazing courage and compassion, it reminded me
that I am proud to be a citizen of the greatest nation on Earth.
Roman"">Lynda Lukschander, customer relations manager and operations
team leader for the Marine Corps' Navy-Marine Corps Internet Program Management
Roman"">Sept. 11th is my birthday. Every time I'm asked for my birth date and I
reply, 'September 11th,' everyone gasps. As
you can imagine, last year was my worst birthday ever.
Roman"">On top of that, the world will now mourn every year on my birthday for the
tragedy, loss and fear that we now experience as a result of the terrorist attacks we
witnessed that day.
Roman"">I lost a friend at the Pentagon, Teri Martin, and suffered along with the rest of
the country at our loss of innocence and security.
Roman"">To 'celebrate' my birthday last year, I took the day off from work,
waking about around 9 a.m., just in time to see the Today show covering the first World
Trade Center crash, followed by live footage of the second crash, the Pentagon attack and
the Pennsylvania disaster. It was surreal, like I was watching an action adventure film.
Roman"">Little did we know how those events would change our world, with each of us
re-examining the meaning of life and what is important to us.
Roman"">This year I turn the big 4-0. It will be tough to celebrate this milestone as we
all reflect on the tragedies of last year.
Roman"">Jesus Mena, former IRS artificial intelligence specialist
Roman"">On Sept. 11, I was sitting on a plane in Boston at 9:30 a.m. on my way to New
York, in a flight that never took off.
Roman"">Having written a couple of books on data mining, I decided that week to write yet
another, which I just completed and will be out late this year. Its title is Investigative
Data Mining for Security and Criminal Detection. It describes how behavioral profiling,
data warehousing, link analysis, software agents, text and data mining can be used by
security and law enforcement officials, analysts and IT professionals to detect and deter
crime and terrorism.
Roman"">It is my personal payback.
Roman"">Ron Miller, CIO of the Federal Emergency Management Agency,
on detail to the Homeland Security Office
Roman"">I have experienced two major changes since Sept. 11: in my work hours and the
approach the Federal Emergency Management Agency takes to its day-to-day mission.
Roman"">It was pretty common before Sept. 11 for me to leave work at 5 p.m. and have
dinner with my family. Now, 7:30 p.m. is the earliest I can expect to leave, and 8:30 p.m.
is not unusual.
Roman"">Before Sept. 11, FEMA dealt with the ebb and flow of natural disasters that
governed the urgency and intensity of operations. We knew when hurricane season was going
to occur or flood season or wildfire season. Terrorism has no defined season. The threat
is constant and attacks can occur at any time.
Roman"">As a result, we have to be vigilant and we must keep a sense of urgency as we
Roman"">Another thing we have learned is that the heightened state of readiness is not a
short-term event. It requires a culture change.
Roman"">We need to brace ourselves for the fact we are going to be at this heightened
state of alert indefinitely. It requires a different mind-set and a different work ethic.
Thankfully, we have stepped up to the challenge so far.
Robert Otto, CIO and vice president of IT
for the Postal Service
Roman"">As the inscription on the General Post Office building in New York City indicates,
the Postal Service is known for being up to a challenge: 'Neither snow nor rain nor
heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed
Roman"">But Sept. 11 marked the beginning of one of the most turbulent years in the Postal
Service's history. As if the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the
Pentagon weren't enough, USPS employees found it difficult to let go of the terror
and sorrow they felt because of the subsequent anthrax and pipe bomb attacks.
Roman"">During the past year, we have been confronted with a test every few months, but we
have overcome every challenge'as is our tradition. To get through these trials, we
have had to change the way we look at life and perform our jobs.
Roman"">Priorities, obviously, have shifted. Like many federal agencies, the Postal
Service has invested more time and money in security'both physical and IT
security'since Sept. 11.
Roman"">For example, the IT team has updated its numerous contingency and continuity of
operations plans and held mock disaster exercises in which we would prepare to bring
systems back online in the event of losing an entire building.
Roman"">We have also equipped more than 300 senior managers with Blackberry wireless
devices to ensure that the lines of communication remain open.
Roman"">The IT team has been able to accomplish so much in so little time not only because
we were already in the process of enhancing security but also because of the unprecedented
level of support we received from senior management and the user community.
Roman"">Everyone has been more diligent about security, and that has made our jobs easier.
Roman"">The outpouring of support from the general public that the Postal Service has
received has also boosted our spirits and spurred us to action. I would go so far as to
say it's enabled us to focus on the future.
Roman"">Without a doubt, the imprint of Sept. 11 will be evident in our work and our lives
for a long time. I've been in the Postal Service for 33 years, and I never saw the
fear in people's eyes like I did on that day.
Roman"">As we watched the events unfold outside our windows, many of us wanted only one
thing: to be with our loved ones. We returned to work after Sept. 11 with skepticism. Are
we safe at work?
Roman"">But throughout the year, that skepticism has slowly diminished, and we are now
less cynical and more focused on the job at hand. A look of determination has replaced
that look of fear from a year ago.
Roman"">If I can say that anything good has come from all of this, it is this: Everyone is
more willing to cooperate to achieve the common goal. Together, we have passed all of
these tests, and together we are prepared.
Roman"">David Reiss, management analyst at the Treasury Department
Roman"">Having been born in New York City and now living in Washington, I feel
particularly close to two of the three main events of Sept. 11.
Roman"">When I think about how my life has changed in the past 12 months, I see the same
changes as everyone else. I think about the added security everywhere. I'm more aware
of my surroundings. I have a greater suspicion of others. I'm tempted to be more
prejudiced towards Middle Easterners and other religions while being more understanding of
how much more difficult it must be for them in the United States now.
Roman"">I see a greater degree of patriotism. I have more appreciation for firefighters
and law enforcement officers. I have more appreciation for my friends and family and of
things previously taken for granted. But the greatest change has been in the way I find
myself dwelling on how many ways I've been affected in my personal life.
Roman"">I was raised in Bloomfield, N.J., but my family would always go to my
grandmother's in Brooklyn for gatherings. My
favorite part of the car ride was, after seeing the Twin Towers from her apartment window,
seeing how much bigger they were as we came out of the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel and drove
up West Side Highway on our way to the Lincoln Tunnel. On my last trip home, I drove up
West Side Highway for the first time since Sept. 11 and was reminded again that this
drive, like everything else, will never be the same. I was compelled to stop my car
outside of where the towers stood, get out and look up at the void in the skyline.
Roman"">Back in December, I was in New York for a friend's birthday party being held
at a club near Ground Zero when we noticed a group of New York firefighters in T-shirts
and their fire pants with suspenders, having some beers and relaxing after having been
hard at work.
Roman"">I was compelled to go up to them with a round of drinks and confirm that the dust
and grime on them had come from working at Ground Zero. I told them I didn't want to
take up too much of their time, but that I wanted to thank them for doing work that I
couldn't even begin to comprehend.
Roman"">I shook their hands and said 'thank you' again. I walked away realizing
that, a couple of months prior, they never would have been allowed into that club without
a dress shirt and shoes; now they had carte blanche virtually everywhere in New York City
with the level of respect that they have earned.
[IMGCAP(7)] Chief Warrant Officer Craig W.
Sincock, senior analyst in the Army's CIO Office
Roman"">Dedicated to Cheryle D. Sincock, my wife of 25 years, an Army civilian who died
Sept. 11 at the Pentagon
Roman"">A dear friend of mine, who also lost a spouse in the Sept. 11 attack on the
Pentagon, told me that three things would happen in the wake of 9-11. First, it would be
become real, then it would become different, and finally it would become real different.
How right she was.
Roman"">I watched the reality that first day while working at the crash site. The only
communications for many hours were by hand and verbal order. Cell phones were only
occasionally able to complete a call. Signal command centers were set up but had few if
anyone else to talk to. Integration between the different levels of government through
communication channels was almost nonexistent. And the internal networks inside the
Pentagon itself were severely disrupted.
Roman"">By the end of the first day, communications started to come together. Industry
partners pulled up with every possible part and piece of equipment they thought would be
needed. Warehouses were opened and stockpiles of wire, computers, switches, routers and
anything else someone thought could be connected together were brought to the site. The
brain trust of the Pentagon increased by several magnitudes that day and the weeks to
Roman"">Something else happened in the aftermath of 9-11. It is not unique to the Pentagon
or the Defense Department or the industrial-military complex. It is the same phenomenon
that happened across our great country. The human part of the equation became more
important than the power or the money or the drive to be recognized.
Roman"">We saw this in many ways play itself out over many months following the attack. We
saw it through shortened acquisition times, lessened bureaucracy and fewer meetings to
discuss when to have meetings. We felt better about ourselves for having gone through this
terrible day together, having survived and having become friends again. I believe it was
because of this spirit that we got so many things accomplished in such a short time. There
were few that worried about who was going to get the credit. And miracles do indeed happen
under those conditions.
Roman"">It is now close to a year since that tragic day. I see the great
'forgetter' of America coming to the forefront. Too many are falling back into
what they believe to be the comfort zone. They are going back to doing what they did for
so many years. And in so doing they are starting to forget the valuable lessons of the
human factor. The bureaucracy is also retreating back unto itself. But that is what
systems'human, corporate and governmental'do. They tend to return to what is
comfortable and known, and that is almost inevitably the past.
Roman"">We have had a great chance in this country to not just learn a lesson of
compassion and how to really work together for the common good, but to make many needed
changes for the good of all both personally and in the workplace. When we read the
headlines about corporate greed, do we just shake our heads in disgust, or do we ask
ourselves what we can do in the government workplace to lessen the fraud, the waste or the
Roman"">It is not enough to reflect on the lessons of 9-11 once every year. We need to
remember those lessons each day, instill them in our consciousness, and make them part of
our working and living culture. Then the 'real different' will become the
Weeks, engineer at Altus Air Force Base, Okla.
Roman"">Ultimately, the terrorist acts of Sept. 11 mark the sheltered United States
joining the reality of the 20th Century'that's
not a typo.
Roman"">As a U.S. military officer, I was in Germany during the Tehran hostage crisis from
1979 through 1981. Terrorism was a very present reality in Europe and the world, and upon
returning to the United States we wondered when our country would address the reality of
Roman"">The initial World Trade Center bombing should have been a wake-up but wasn't.
Had the Oklahoma Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building been a foreign terrorist act, I'm
not sure we Americans would have awoken to reality even then. It took the unique atrocity
of the WTC attacks and the Pentagon (and White House?) to shake the public out of its
Roman"">Am I bitter? All atrocities should well up
righteous anger, and do.
Roman"">The complacency of our public leadership is appalling as well, in that it took
three major terrorist acts'no, at least six
considering 9-11 was actually four coordinated events'to
awaken the United States.
Roman"">I'm chagrined it takes so much to move us to action because of the tendency
to then overreact. So far, we have not used excessive force. The roots of terrorism are
exceedingly entrenched such that it's likely to require terrible loss of life to
bring any justice to bear. I'm greatly concerned for the world since 9-11, however,
my hope is not in man but in God.