‘Sept. 11, 2001 was my 40th birthday’

Sept. 11, 2001 was my 40th birthday. I was at work with the rest of the folks that occupied the since-defunct Northeast Philadelphia Campus of the IRS (they are now at the old Post Office building on 30th Street in downtown Philly).

The management team had gathered for a meeting and our room was right next to the Public Affairs Office. The PA had a TV on that constantly streamed the local news, so they saw the first plane hit and came into our room to tell us what happened. We all went into their room and saw as the second plane hit the second tower.

Then all hell broke loose at our location as people scrambled back to offices and phones and tried to find out what happened. Eventually, we were told to orderly depart the building as all government offices were being evacuated for the day. In the middle of this chaos, my employees all came into my office with a beautiful cake that they had purchased for the occasion. They sang to me and then I said ‘Eat your cake and go the hell home!’

I distinctly remember the drive home on that gorgeous September day. The sky was a brilliant blue as only September skies can be. And as I made my way home on I-95 South towards my home in South Jersey, a steady parade of police, fire, emergency vehicles of all kinds from all over the Southern New Jersey and Philadelphia area went screaming past me in the opposite direction toward New York.

It was and will remain the most surreal experience in my life.

—Randi Salkowitz, IRS

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