This morning there was a suspected “incident” at the Washington Navy Yard. While I am not stationed on this facility I work across the street helping to support our Government customer and I access this base frequently. At about 7:30 a.m. I heard a siren which by itself is nothing new for Washington DC and continued my phone conversation to our corporate headquarters. Moments later I heard two or three sirens coming from different directions and overheard several employees in the hall discussing their first hand knowledge that a serious incident was currently in progress across the street. I hung up the phone and looked out of my window to see the street lined with police and other rescue vehicles from numerous agencies and more vehicles pouring in. Kudos to Washington DC’s first responders for quickly arriving to today’s crisis, not knowing exactly what was in store for them. To everyone in the area it appeared to be a deja vu of the horrific attack that happened in the exact same location less than two years ago. Everyday work stopped and we began thinking about our friends and coworkers who had commuted into work this morning hoping to take off early and enjoy the long holiday weekend but now visualized them quietly hiding under desks in a locked room and trying to safely evacuate both the building and the base. I will not begin to suggest that I know the fear these people instantly felt.
Our building was immediately placed in a lockdown status with all employees preparing to shelter in place for an extended period of time. My first thought was to help account for any of our employees who may have made an early morning visit to what is affectionately known as “the Yard”. A handful of coworkers and members of our government support team were able to escape and safely make their way to our facility. I started texting several friends who I knew would have been working inside the building in question to make sure they were out of harms way and received messages from many of my friends who were checking in with me.
Papa. I thought about Papa and was torn on what to do. He is the man who continually worries about his family and their safety. Do I wonder if he has seen the news and call him to tell him I was OK? Or do I assume he is watching WGN Chicago, ME TV or perhaps a rerun of yesterday dismal Nat’s game and doesn’t have a clue as to what has happened today? Will calling him be alerting him to a worry that he would not have otherwise had? Will I be able to answer his questions if he asks me how or when I am coming home? I decided not to call.
After several hours of hearing numerous rumors on TV of gunman, great escapes over the historic Navy Yard wall and large amounts of blood in the building it was determined to be a false alarm and we were given the all clear to leave the area. I arrived home early in case Papa was worried and found him quietly standing in the garage door looking up the street. As we walked inside I asked him if he had watched any news broadcasts today. Papa sat down in his chair, tuned back into The Riflemen on ME TV and calmly said, yes, what happened? I saw your building on the news. I was happy he recognized my building and assured him I was safely locked in my office all morning, Yea, I was thinking about calling you but I saw a lot of other people walking by the news cameras so I figured I would just keep looking for you.
Fortunately nobody was hurt in what now appears to be a false alarm at the Washington Navy Yard. I am grateful for hundreds of first responders who quickly arrived and were prepared to assist the many people who work inside this base. I am thankful for a long weekend but realize that one extra day is not nearly long enough for employees on the Yard to feel safe again in their work place. I am grateful for the many friends who checked on me today. And while Papa says he didn’t worry too much, I noticed that his phone list was lying on his table with the phone on top of it. He was ready.