My Family And 9/11

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor.

On this fifteenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks millions in the United States and the world reflect back on those terrible events, where we were, and how it affected each of us in our own unique ways–but sharing of course a familiar story. My own family certainly was not an exception.

If our experience can be summed into one word, I cannot find one more telling of how we avoided tragedy:


For me news of the events came forth in a telephone call from my mother asking me to turn on the television. She told me that one of the twin towers was hit by an aircraft and it was certainly a terrorist attack. I turned on the set and within five or so minutes of watching the live recording I saw one of the towers fall. I’ve seen horrific events in my life but this sight was one of the most unsettling I experienced–thinking in my mind that I probably witnessed the murder of perhaps a thousand people at that moment.

We all are familiar with the particulars of the events affecting each of us in some way. I to this day will turn the channel if the towers’ collapse is shown.

As the events went by we later learned of the Pentagon attack. I thought of my Brother-in-Law who works there. My wife tried over the hours to contact him and her family to find out if he was still with us and uninjured. But so was everyone else as the phone lines were relentlessly unavailable.

Greatly fortunate to us about twelve hours later he finally was able to call us.

For my brother-in-law he completed his work in a particular node of the Pentagon and walked to another assignment elsewhere. The section he originally worked at was struck by the hijacked aircraft, minutes after he left that area. He reflected how he heard a thunderous noise, blackness, dust and chaos. People shouting and trying to recover. He understandably did not share too many details, but I admire him for enduring such events and continuing on rather undaunted. Part of the reason we waited so long to hear from him was that since the Metro was closed down, he needed to walk several miles home.

Luck and a few minutes saved my brother-in-law.

Simultaneously that day, the husband of my wife’s cousin shared a 9/11 fate.

He is an executive with a re-insurance company, headquartered at the top of Tower Two at the World Trade Center. His eldest son worked as an intern that summer at their office and returned to college that fall. While he would be normally working in the office that day, he instead travelled out of town on company business and missed the attack. In another fortune, a senior executive for the company was late for work on 9/11 and arrived late. His chauffer let him off in front of the tower and awaited him to enter. The executive grabbed the door handle and felt the violent shaking of the building. He returned to his chauffer who drove him out of harm’s way. All of the other employees in the office that day perished.

On our home front, the resulting economic turmoil over the later months required my wife to change professions.

A few weeks after the attacks, as previously scheduled, we travelled to the D.C. area to visit our family. My wife’s parents are interred at Arlington Cemetery, overlooking the Pentagon. We visited their gravesite from which we could see the blackened destruction of the section of the Pentagon of which her brother worked. Some photos from that day:


Some of the recently deceased



There were many concurrent funerals and memorial services of 9/11 victims throughout the cemetery. For one of the fallen, we were told a colonel in the USAF (Robert Hymel I would later Learn), a B-52 flew overhead to commemorate his passing. Those Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and all others are a credit to those who serve us, having made such a painful sacrifice.


Let us never forget.


By Darren Smith

Photo Credits

Own Work © 2001, Darren Smith
33: flag raising

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173 thoughts on “My Family And 9/11”

  1. Whereas David Chandler’s video above goes into the physics of 9/11, the excellent (15-minute) video linked to below goes into the politics of 9/11, including the Bush Administration’s initial attempts to block any investigation of the 9/11 attacks, as well as its subsequent control of the 9/11 Commission and its deceptive report by appointing the Bush Administration’s own Philip Zelikow* as the Commission’s Executive Director. The video makes clear why there needs to be an actual investigation of the attacks of 9/11:

    *For a highly informative profile of Zelikow, see

  2. @Squeeky Fromm, Girl Reporter
    1, September 13, 2016 at 7:52 pm

    “Here is a NIST FAQ link:


    “And a NIST Reports link:


    The video linked to below analyzes in terms understandable by non-physicists, by utilizing Newtonian Mechanics, the destruction of the Twin Towers and Building 7.

    The narrator, a physics teacher, also offers a detailed analysis of the various iterations of the NIST Report on WTC 7, thereby exposing its major flaws, including NIST’s refusal to submit for public and scientific review the numerical values they put into their computer model to arrive at the conclusion that WTC 7 was brought down by fire, the first such event in history for a steel-framed building:

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  4. @Teaching Spastics to Dance
    1, September 14, 2016 at 11:24 am

    ” ‘David Ray Griffin points out the following:’

    “David Ray Griffin does not know structural engineering from tiddlywinks.”

    That’s singularly lame, even compared with your previous vapid pontification in this thread.

    Are you content with ignoring evidence and with being illogical, or are you able to address the videotaped evidence of Building 7’s free-fall and the possible explanations thereof?

    1. I’m ignoring not ‘evidence’, but word salads uttered by David Ray Griffin, including confused chatter about ‘free fall’. Acceleration is 9.8 meters-per-second-squared, pretty much everywhere on the planet. There is air resistance and there’s resistance from the materials of which the structure is constructed. Neither Griffin nor any other ‘free-fall’ chatterers care to explain why air resistance and resistance from the building materials will magically disappear if someone places explosive charges in the building.

      That aside, you’re all commending this engineer in Fairbanks who has been running simulations re WTC7 (not the towers), even though you’ve all made up your mind, the advocacy group you’ve cited is run by a man who has made up his mind, and you’re citing to me the confused babble of a retired professor of comparative religion as if he were some kind of authority rather than what he is, a member in good standing of your circle jerk.

      And your antecedent premise is that Larry Silverstein bought the 99 year lease on the buildings in order to blow them up coincident with a pair of jetliners crashing into them. There’s a reason non-stupid people do not begin with your premises.

      1. No building can ‘free fall’ however a structure can ‘pancake’ when it loses structural integrity. With each floor pancaking on the floor below, it pretty much wipes out any evidence.

        I have watched them set up demolitions for building for casino in Las Vegas and it takes a week. Part of that week is weakening the supports. Part is planting munitions and timing them. Even 7, which I am not able to explain, does not act like a building being exploded.

  5. In a thorough, in-depth critique of the fire-did-it theory offered by NIST regarding WTC 7, David Ray Griffin points out the following:

    “Besides pointing out that the free fall descent of WTC 7 implied that the building had been professionally demolished, Chandler [a high school physics teacher] observed that this conclusion is reinforced by two features of the collapse mentioned above:

    “ ‘Particularly striking is the suddenness of onset of free fall. Acceleration doesn’t build up gradually. . . . The building went from full support to zero support, instantly. . . . One moment, the building is holding; the next moment it lets go and is in complete free fall. . . . The onset of free fall was not only sudden; it extended across the whole width of the building. . . . The fact that the roof stayed level shows the building was in free fall across the entire width. The collapse we see cannot be due to a column failure, or a few column failures, or a sequence of column failures. All 24 interior columns and 58 perimeter columns had to have been removed . . . simultaneously, within a small fraction of a second.’60 []

    “For its part, NIST, knowing that it had affirmed a miracle by agreeing that WTC 7 had entered into free fall, no longer claimed that its analysis was consistent with the laws of physics. Back in its August draft, in which it was still claiming that the collapse occurred 40 percent slower than free fall, NIST had said – in a claim made three times – that its analysis was ‘consistent with physical principles.’61 In the final report, however, every instance of this phrase was removed. NIST thereby almost explicitly admitted that its report on WTC 7, by affirming absolute free fall while continuing to deny that either incendiaries or explosives had been employed, is not consistent with basic principles of physics.”

    1. David Ray Griffin points out the following:

      David Ray Griffin does not know structural engineering from tiddlywinks.

  6. @ Paul Schulte
    “Ken Rogers – did the architects and engineers explain how steel is made without fire?”

    Not that I’m aware of, Paul.

    Nor, to my knowledge, have they explained why steel is such an unsatisfactory fuel for marshmallow-roasting fires.

    1. Ken Rogers – all steel has to do is lose its structural integrity. Jet fuel burns at 800-1500 F. That is hot enough to deform the steel and cause it to lose integrity. Once it loses integrity, Katie bar the door.

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