'There Was No Time To React. I Just Went Into Trance Mode.'


Sept. 11, 2011

Elaine Sciolino is an author and a Paris correspondent and former Paris bureau chief for The New York Times. She recalls where she was and how she reacted to the news of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

I was in the Washington bureau of The New York Times. It was early, before most people came in. Bill Safire, the legendary columnist, was in his office and came rushing out to tell me the news. I watched it on TV with him.

Author and New York Times reporter Elaine Sciolino in Paris

When the Pentagon was hit, I checked to make sure my husband and kids were okay, then I rushed to the editor's desk and offered to try to get on-scene. I got as far as the State Department but the metros, all the buses were stopped. I met a man in a van who was trying to find his wife. I offered to pay him any amount of money if he'd take me to the Pentagon. Turned out he was a government van driver.

We got onto the other side of the river, but were blocked from entering the Pentagon. I interviewed people in the area, then headed back to the office to write the Pentagon side of the story. There was no time to react. I just went into trance mode, just as I had in my days covering wars, earthquakes, invasions, and revolutions. I mourned afterwards.

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