Capitol Lens: A Frame of Reference

Posted September 6, 2011 at 5:06pm

I was in the Capitol basement on Sept. 11, 2001, and heading for the first floor when a policeman yelled at me and about 20 other people to get out, that a plane was headed for the Capitol. All I remember is running for the Senate side door, trying to get outside to get shots of the Members, staffers and tourists evacuating the building. I don’t really remember feeling anything. I just wanted to get outside and get an image that showed the evacuation, like this one. 

The atmosphere was not one of panic. Yes, some people were running and looking scared, but other people just calmly walked out of the building. I think at the time nobody had a frame of reference for the situation like we do now. 

Roll Call photographer Tom Williams and I watched the TV coverage at his apartment that night, and we heard speculation that Flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania, had been intended for the U.S. Capitol. That was when it really started to sink in that we had been extremely lucky that day.