Today I grew teary-eyed as I explained to my son for the first time about 9-11. I suddenly realized that all of my children existed because of the heroism of Flight 93. 

Take Off Your Shoes and Run

Take off your shoes and run,” the security officer called to me. I’ll never forget his words or that moment on September 11, 2001, when hundreds of my White House colleagues and I were evacuating the Eisenhower Executive Office Building (EEOB), the grand Victorian building next door to the West Wing.

At less than five feet tall, I don’t have the leg length to run quickly, but I ran as fast as I could to exit the White House complex. 

Earlier in the day while in the cafeteria at the EEOB, I learned that two planes had attacked the World Trade Center. Minutes later, I was watching TV news reports when the third plane hit the Pentagon. The news anchor reported that the EEOB was on fire, but it turned out to be an optical illusion with smoke coming from the Pentagon across the river in the distance. My husband and I had driven by that side of the Pentagon on our way to work about an hour before the impact.


A White House colleague—and a friend from our mutual service on George W. Bush’s Texas gubernatorial staff—rushed into my office. With tears streaming down her face, she told me to get out of there. The possibility of a fourth plane striking the White House was very real. Soon the official evacuation order came. We fled the safety of the EEOB and West Wing complex into the abyss of chaos that erupted in downtown D.C. when the whole city was evacuated.