Twenty years later, lawmakers remember 9/11 on Capitol Hill

Some watched black smoke billowing over the Pentagon; others ran to safety. Lawmakers reflect on 9/11, 20 years later.
Published: Sep. 10, 2021 at 8:54 AM EDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Before brave passengers took down Flight 93 over Pennsylvania, hijackers were flying the plane towards our nation’s capital.

There was so much uncertainty at the Capitol. Many lawmakers witnessed the attacks unfold. Some rushed to safety, while others stayed behind.

Twenty years later, the memories are still fresh.

“It was a shocking day for everyone,” said Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.).

“I’ll never forget it as long as I live,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).

Our country was under attack. People ran from government buildings.

“I saw black smoke rising over the Pentagon, having absolutely no idea what had taken place,” said Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.).

The Capitol Police called for evacuation as news spread of another hijacked plane headed for D.C.

“If that plan had succeeded, there’s no telling what would have happened that day,” said Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.). “Certainly, where I was sitting, the conference room that I was in would probably have been annihilated.”

Traffic was backed up for hours as workers tried to get home. But one lawmaker said he never left.

“I actually did not run from the Capitol; I spent my day in my office,” said Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kansas). “Not really abiding by the evacuation rule, but taking calls from Kansans.”

That evening, congressional leadership said lawmakers could return to Capitol Hill.

“We went to the steps of the Capitol on a bipartisan basis,” said Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich). “We all started singing God Bless America. It was just a stunning moment.”

Multimedia Journalist Natalie Grim contributed to this report.

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