|Marylander Who Survived Attack
Finds It Hard to Work|
|"If I wasn't going to the Pentagon, I
know that my anxiety level would be up, but it wouldn't be as high as it is," says
Lynette Brown. (Photo by Kathleen
Thursday, Oct. 18, 2001
Series: Tragedies' Footprints
DISTRICT HEIGHTS, Md. - Lynette Brown still finds stark reminders
of the Sept. 11 tragedy all around her.
In the books she refers to at work. "You go open a book, and there is all the dust on
it"--dust from the disaster.
In the pamphlet she picked up at the Pentagon chapel, titled: “When Your Whole World Changes.”
(Courtesy Lynette Brown)
rescue workers outside the building don't help, nor do the men carrying machine
guns, Brown says. “You can’t not think about it. ”
More than a month after the terrorist attacks in New York and suburban Washington, Brown
says she's still finding it hard to report to work each day, and to
concentrate. She works at the
Pentagon, as she has for 15 years.
“If I wasn’t going to the Pentagon, I know that my anxiety level
would be up, but it wouldn’t be as high as it is,” says the 40-year-old
Brown was in the Pentagon when American Airlines Flight 77 crashed
into it. She admits to having thought about
possible terrorist attacks before, but not "at the top place, like the White House"
the Pentagon. "It’s almost like my security level
She says memories from
the Sept. 11 attack linger. You can "not think
about it for a second," she says. But then, some tangible reminder of the
She's not alone in her anxiety. Brown says she was walking out of the building recently,
when she encountered a worker on his way home from a 13-hour shift. "He’s going home,
and he’s whispering to himself, 'It’s really bad,' " she recalls.
Her life has also changed in subtler ways. Brown’s phone rings a lot more
now, she says. Her older sister calls
more, and talking to her mother is now "an everyday thing."
On Sept. 11, Brown started the day the way she normally does:
She was up at 5 a.m. praying and thinking about how she would get her
supervisor from an important meeting to his dental appointment on time.
“I don’t remember if
someone called me to tell me that someone had attacked the World Trade Center, but we were all [at work] in
front of the television watching the event unfold. We were just in shock, saying
this could happen to us. We were praying it wouldn’t.”
At about 9:40 a.m., a Boeing 757 with 64 people on board
smashed into the Pentagon. Officials say 125 people
inside the Pentagon were killed, along with the 64 people on board the plane. To date,
remains from 118 people have been accounted for.
“I felt the building shake, and we heard a loud boom. We
looked at each other and said, ‘Oh God, no.’ We heard people come out into the
hallway and yell ‘fire ball!’ ”
She'd find out later her office was about a 5-minute walk from the
Brown gathered her purse and changed her shoes and recalls
not turning off her computer, which she would have done under normal
circumstances, since she works in a classified area.
She grabbed the hand of a colleague who was new to the
building and ran.
As she was getting into her car to drive home to District Heights, Brown remembers praying, “I can’t leave Emma,"
woman who commutes with her every day. Thankfully, when she looked around, the woman was
standing beside the car.
They left, as the building burned.
“We stopped for a second just to look back.
We were in silence going home.”
Brown says she knew two of the people killed in the attack. She’s still dealing with
questions surrounding their deaths, and the deaths of the others.
“I question, 'Why innocent people?' " she says. "But in listening to the
pastor, he says you can ask God that question. He will answer each question
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Published 12/12/01; last updated: 12/13/01 02:12 PM
Special report produced by Sonia Kumar, Kim
Harris and Kathleen Johnston;
edited by Chris Harvey (Web) and Steve Crane and Adrianne Flynn (print).
Banner graphic by Sonia Kumar.
Copyright © 2001 University of Maryland College of Journalism. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.