Vice President Mike Pence described his experience during the September 11 terror attacks on the event’s 16-year anniversary on Monday, saying it included “the longest 12 minutes” of his life.
During a speech at the Flight 93 memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, Pence described his early-morning hours on that September day, when he was in his first term as a congressman representing Indiana.
“As a new member of Congress, I was going through my normal workday routine at the United States Capitol when I had learned of the attacks in New York City and at the Pentagon,” he said. “I will always remember the scenes of that day, watching the Capitol complex being evacuated. It was as though the building was literally haemorrhaging with people running in every direction.”
Pence said he went to the Capitol Police headquarters, where he was with House and Senate leaders.
“Shortly after I arrived, the chief of police set the phone back down and informed the leaders gathered there that there was a plane inbound for the Capitol, and he said it was 12 minutes out,” he said.
“In that moment, the room became silent, and as people began to make plans, I found myself looking out the window, where just across the street was the Capitol dome, with that majestic statue of freedom standing atop it. A dome that’s a symbol of the ideals of this nation — of the freedom and democracy for all the world.”
“So we waited,” he continued. “It was the longest 12 minutes of my life. But it turned to 13 minutes. Then 14. Then we were informed that the plane had gone down in a field in Pennsylvania.”
Flight 93, which had been hijacked by terrorists, crashed in a rural Pennsylvania field after passengers stormed the cockpit and overtook the plane from the hijackers.
Pence said the “40 heroes of Flight 93” were “men and women who looked evil squarely in the eye and without regard to their personal safety, they rushed forward to save lives.”
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