In Madison, students can look down State Street and see the Capitol; at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., students looked across the Potomac River and saw billowing smoke coming from the Pentagon.
George Washington student Joseph Tyler witnessed the aftermath of the attack on the Pentagon.
“I heard a lot of commotion on campus, so I went up to the top of one of the dorms on campus and got a view down onto the Potomac River, and after that the Pentagon, and after that the D.C. international airport,” Tyler said.
Although Tyler had a firsthand vantage point, it didn’t take him away from his television set.
“There was an enormous amount of smoke billowing up from one side of the building — big gray clouds, kind of like on TV,” he said.
Smoke did not fill the sky; it was isolated to the area directly around the Pentagon.
“It was hard to tell where it was,” Tyler said. “It looked like a dark cloud, but it went all the way to the ground and you could see it billowing up.”
There were no planes in the sky across the country because of the FAA restriction.
“George Washington is right under the flight path towards the Pentagon and the national airport,” he said. “Normally every two minutes there is a plane that goes over and you hear it; today it was eerily quiet.”
The Pentagon is a low building, and Tyler said he was afraid another plane could be hijacked and, if it crashed two miles earlier, that it would harm the George Washington campus.
The George Washington campus is across the Potomac River from the Pentagon and still in the danger area — too far away, however, for students to see or hear victims of the attack.
“It sounded normal; no people were running and there were no explosions that I could hear,” Tyler said.
Shocked students roamed the campus, gazing at the smoke in the distance.
“Everyone had this awestruck look on their face and there was total silence,” Tyler said.
The George Washington campus was taking safety precautions as well.
“On campus they actually highly encouraged not having us leave,” Tyler said.
“As I came back on campus, I was a block off at a friend’s house. They searched my bag and I had to show an ID just to get on campus.”
Classes were cancelled, and students were urged not to leave campus.
Classes will resume tomorrow, but Tyler expects them to be anything but normal.
“Classes start up tomorrow, but it won’t be a normal day,” he said. “I bet you talk about it in every class.”