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A Look Back; Remembering 9/11

Can you recall the moment when you heard about the attacks on September 11, 2001?

In keeping with the national promise we made to never forget the attacks on September 11, 2001, we reflect on the tragic events of that day every year. Here are a couple of accounts, one from someone who was at GSA at the time of the attacks and one from a much younger perspective. The breadth of these experiences is an attestation of the impact of that dark day.

TC Hairston’s, Director/Contracting Officer for the Client Delivery Division (CDD) of the Office of Portfolio Management & Real Estate, story highlights his role at GSA and how 9/11 reminded him of the importance of coming together as a country and as a people to support each other during times of hardship.

Selfie of TC Harrison at his desk. He is smiling and wearing a suit

“My story starts out as a personal story, only because I had a meeting scheduled at the Pentagon on the morning of 9/11. My mother called me to inform me that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center and that she was fearful that going to the meeting might not be a good idea, especially not knowing the reasons behind the crash. I explained to my mother that the Pentagon was one of the safest buildings in the country, and I needed to get off the phone to get to my meeting on time. The call went on for several more minutes, and as soon as we hung up the phone, another plane hit the other World Trade Center building.

From a work experience and being a GSA employee who spent nearly all of the GSA career working with the Department of Defense. I felt really good and purposeful trying to work with our customers while listening to the horrific stories of loved ones and friends. But GSA coming together as one from all of its services, on one accord and delivering space for approximately 1,800 DOD employees in approximately 30 days. This was a feat never to be matched within the entire GSA organization and far exceeded customer expectations. But it gave us all a great feeling that we did something really good during the time of a crisis, for the good of mankind, and coming together as one regardless of race, creed, or color! A significant success story for GSA! This is a humble opinion of a 38.5-year employee of GSA while spending 33.5 years with DOD as a customer. I share this story tearfully and emotionally.”

Photo of stephanie ramirez as a school aged child. she is smiling

On the same morning that Hairston was preparing for a meeting at the Pentagon, Stephanie Ramirez, the public affairs officer for the National Capital Region at GSA, was preparing for just another day in elementary school just like millions of kids across the country.

“My morning started off like most mornings, my mom woke me up for school and poured me a bowl of cereal. However, this was no ordinary morning because it was also my younger sister’s birthday. We woke her up with balloons in hand and sang her happy birthday. Shortly after, we walked hand in hand to the bus stop.

When I arrived at my second grade classroom the TV was on and the teacher was in tears. I remember the image on the TV as a cloud of smoke and I instantly understood that something bad happened, however, I never imagined just how bad it actually was. As we sat down to watch the news they announced that a second plane crashed into the twin towers. At this point my teacher grabbed the phone in the classroom and started dialing. Before anyone answered, a voice on the telecom told us that our parents were going to pick us up early from school and that we should pack up our things.

I don’t remember everything from my childhood. However, the events that took place that morning are seared into my mind. I didn’t quite understand the magnitude of the events that took place on that dark day, however, I felt a sadness come over me and a desperate desire to be in mom’s arms.”

These stories remind us that while most memories fade, the tragedy that took place on September 11, 2001, and the selfless acts of bravery and sacrifices will never be forgotten.