At the epicenter

A firsthand experience working 9/11 in D.C


Courtesy of Beth Haw

Security Guard Steve Haw poses in the press room at the White House during his time in the Secret Service.

Halle Opat, Photo Editor

Many Americans can vividly recall the moment they heard that the first plane had struck the World Trade Center in New York City. While the whole country watched the horror unfold on their televisions, security guard Steve Haw went to work.

At the time of 9/11, Steve Haw was living in Maryland working at the White House as a Secret Serviceman. On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, Steve Haw was driving his kids to school while listening to the radio when he heard the news that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center, and he anxiously waited to be called into work.

Driving into work, Steve Haw was stopped at the city border and had to show his identification to be allowed into the city. He recalls having to drive on the sidewalks because the streets were so crowded with gridlock traffic and people trying to walk out of the city.

“You know you don’t really think about it at the time you just do your job, that’s just what you have to do,” Steve Haw said. “It’s surreal you’re in a city and it’s filled with smoke from the pentagon, you can smell the jet fuel, there’s no planes in the air it feels odd.”

After reporting to work that day his job was to drive around and pick up high-ranking government officials that were stuck in the traffic and waves of people fleeing the city. After picking them up he had to get them around traffic and into the city.

Steve Haws’ wife, counseling secretary Beth Haw, sat at home overseeing their home renovations when she received the news and knew her husband would be called into work soon. Beth Haw rushed to the school to pick up her kids and take them home with her in fear that there could be an attack in D.C.

“It’s almost like when you see a firefighter and the station signal goes off and they all jump at the same time then they wait for a second and move,” Beth Haw said. “It’s like that with him he jumps then waits to see what’s happening. I knew he was gonna have to go in and respond, and that was terrifying because we didn’t know what was happening. We didn’t know what the scale of it was and I’m thinking there goes my husband into the middle of the craziness.”

Beth Haw remembers the fear of not knowing how long the attacks would last, or where the planes could strike next. All she could do was sit and wait for more news, and hope that her husband would be safe.

“I did not get to talk to him because he was so busy responding,” Beth Haw said. “I didn’t know if he was going to be home or if he was gonna be safe. I didn’t know anything. It was really absolutely terrifying, especially when you know you have two young kids.”

With the 21st anniversary of 9/11 coming up be sure to thank Steve Haw for his heroic service during this important time in American history.