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Preserving Freedom

I met Alan Hantman, his wife, and friends on the plaza at Flight 93 National Memorial on a blustery November afternoon in 2012.  Hantman served a 10-year appointment as the 10th Architect of the Capitol, including an unforgettable day, September 11, 2001, and he willingly shared with me his experience in the US Capitol that morning.

Hantman arrived at his office in the Capitol a few minutes before 9 am, and with his assistant, watched the televised reports of a plane striking the World Trade Center.  His first thoughts were for the lives that were in immediate danger in the North Tower and for an important meeting scheduled later that day in the Capitol to launch the campaign to fund a Capitol Visitor Center.  The news that a second plane had struck the South Tower caused Hantman to conclude that these events were “parallel acts of terrorism.”  As a member of the Capitol Police Board responsible for the security of the Capitol, Hantman immediately conferred with the Capitol Police.  He then learned that a third plane had crashed into the Pentagon.  This news was quickly overshadowed by an announcement over the Capitol’s public address of another rogue plane estimated to be just ten minutes from Washington, DC.  An immediate evacuation was announced.  Hantman quickly moved from office to office to ensure that his Capitol employees were evacuating.  According to the Architect of the Capitol, the evacuation was virtually unguided and disorganized. 

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