I work at the Naval Research Lab in SE Washington DC. We are just a quick couple miles from the Navy yard via I295 (The Anacostia Freeway) or via the Potomac river.
Everytime someone asks me where I work the conversations goes something like:
Person- So where do you work?
Me- I work at the Naval Research Lab.
Person- Oh- at the Navy Yard right? Ive been there once.
Me- No, we're Navy too, but we have our own installation on the south side of Bolling AFB by WASA, where Navy Yard is North and across the river.
Person- But it's like on the same base right?
Me- Sure, Whatever *rolls eyes and walks away*
6 hours of lock-down yesterday. We're quite lucky it was only 6 I think, there was an awful lot of discussion going around about what would happen if we had to spend the night here. Were also quite lucky were a few miles away, we were in relatively low/no danger.
I had just gotten breakfast and had stopped to talk to PAL in my old department when we got the email news about a shooting at the Navy Yard. It was 9:30 when we they called for a complete restriction of all movement on/off or around the base. (a full hour after it started- Long enough that someone could have gotten to our base from there easily before the lock-down started). So I was stuck across base from my desk- but luckily had my phone to notify people I was there and safe. Around lunch I finally made the call and ran back to my desk through the completely empty base (If I ever wanted to leave I had to be there to get my keys and my truck!).
It was a stressful day to be sure. I had a couple things that had to get done yesterday will the cells I grow for experiments, which is nerve racking because you have to sit at a biological safety hood which faces against the back wall with your back towards the door- which has a big window in it as well. I definitely kept looking behind me everytime I heard a noise, and had planned my hiding place and escape route from the lab if it turned out to be needed. When the Captain addressed the lab and said they were making exit plans hopefully starting around 2-3pm. We got the email at 2:51 that the gate was open for egress only, and alot of people practically ran to their cars (I maintained a very quick walk lol). It was a relief, a long day was finally at an end, and plus I could finally get something to eat- minimizing being outside and especially near the gates/fences on base meant I couldnt get any food. (lucky I had actually eaten breakfast).
The last time something like this impacted me it was alot more emotional, but I was actually alot more distant from the events. April 16th 2007, is a date that will always be forefront in my mind. It will always evoke tears. On that day my alma mater, Virginia Tech lost 32 bright and innocent students to a shooter. They were on lockdown for a much longer period, but I wasnt there. I was safe in Fredericksburg VA. over 4 hours away from the place that had become my other home.
I got a sense on what those students went through being on lockdown and not knowing what was going on and if they were in danger yesterday. But other than an extremely poor night of sleep I havent felt that affected. Maybe its because I dont know any of those people like I did with the shooting at Tech, maybe because DC is not a close knit community because there are so many people in so many different stages of their lives. Maybe its because instances like this are unfortunately quite commonplace these days. And Maybe most of all, maybe its because everyone I know was safely away from the events unfolding, even if I myself was in any sort of danger no matter how minimal, everyone I love was safe, and I could deal with being in a small bit of danger, because I had already been through worse by having the barrels of two guns against my head- as long as I knew everyone else in my life was safe.
My thoughts and prayers go out to those whose loved ones were not safe, for those who died, those who lost someone, and those who spent their days cowered beneath a desk, not knowing if they were safe.