September 11, 2011 marks the 10th anniversary of the devastating attacks that forever changed the course of American history. Our members reflect on the impact that day had on them both personally and professionally. AFGE 4th District National Representative Richard Fitch and National Representative Reinhard Witiak (now
retired) recall their experience.
Richard: Reinhard Witiak and I were together heading for AFGE headquarters for a meeting. We were on the highway beside the Pentagon just as the plane hit. I had stayed in Springfield and Reinhard had just picked me up from the hotel. We were in fairly heavy rush hour traffic, we heard a loud boom and it felt like the road shook. I noticed a car to my right with several people looking and pointing towards us, or our lane. I remarked to Reinhard that maybe they wanted to move to our lane.
It was then that we looked to our left and saw the plumes of black smoke and what appeared to be thousands of pieces of paper rising in the air from the Pentagon.
We turned the radio on and heard the news about the twin towers in NY; the Pentagon
strike was not on the news until we were several blocks from AFGE headquarters.
We went to the roof of the headquarters building and could clearly see the
smoke still rising from the direction of the Pentagon. As I recall, it took us
several hours to get out of DC and to begin to make our way home. It was indeed
a “YOU ARE THERE” moment we’ll never forget.
Reinhard: Watching as the events unfold was exciting and tragic at the same
time. I knew that the ‘world had changed’ in that instant. Unfortunately
a lot of that change has not been for the better. Take for example the Patriot Act – it’s aimed at deterring terrorists but actually it violates the privacy and rights of millions of Americans.