Royal Alexander is a lawyer in Shreveport. Over the years friends and family have often asked Alexander to recall for them that day and week (I was stranded in our nation’s capital because no commercial airlines were allowed to fly after 9/11) he spent in D.C. He still struggles to completely explain what he saw and felt that day. It was unlike any other day of his life and he is sure he always feels that way.
An Uneventful Day
On 9/11, Royal Alexander was in Washington, D.C. with the late Clyde C. Holloway, former U.S. Congressman, and Louisiana Public Service Commissioner. They were there to try to form support from members of Congress who they knew, and for fundraising, for their campaign.
The day started gray. They had to spend the night at a hotel in Crystal City, Virginia. which was near the Pentagon. That day they woke up, had their usual coffee and Holloway left for the first meeting of the day while Alexander stayed behind.
The Nation Came to a Screeching Halt
Alexander heard a people screaming, this surprised him. He walked out to the parking lot of the hotel to see black smoke surging from a corner of the Pentagon. Soon thereafter, an exodus of terrified people started coming from the Pentagon toward the Crystal City. People were panic-stricken and D.C was under lockdown.
D.C. came to a screeching halt, Alexander could not have imagined, he had to go back to the nation’s founders but there was nothing to take him. He was military helicopters circling the various parts of the city. There were black Suburbans with black-clad men holding serious-looking weaponry out of the windows.
Alexander Felt numb, panicked, and disoriented, he couldn’t understand what was happening around him and across America. He was worried and a nervous wreck thinking about his older brother Tom, who worked with Jon Kyl, U.S Senator who worked in the Senate Hart Office Building, he knew their life was in danger since the Capitol was hit directly.
As the day went on and the sun started to set Alexander was able to walk some distance closer to the Pentagon. There was a huge hole in the building that burned brightly for days. At night, the news took a toll on him, he could smell the filthy air that burned his eyes.
9/11 is indelibly imprinted in his memory because of the evil that is reflected in such an act and the over 3,000 American lives tragically lost. A powerful sense of patriotism and unity that can exist in our great country when we stand together.
On this day, and on Veterans Day and Memorial Day, Alexander says a simple prayer in gratitude for those who have suffered and died on that day and reminds himself to strive to be worthy of their sacrifice.