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Isabelle Slifer Shares Her Story
It was a beautiful day, she remembers. It was the second week of school for her two boys - oldest 15 and youngest 12 at the time - and for some odd reason, she decided not to wake them for their routine, “See you later. Have a nice day” goodbyes. It was the start of what she thought would be an ordinary day and yet, when she got to the Metro, something told her to call home. Her youngest answered the phone and she said, “Have a nice day and tell everyone I love them.”
It was Isabelle Slifer’s sixth day at the Pentagon. Having been an Army Reservist for over twenty years on Active Duty, her new job at the Pentagon was as a Reserved Components Policy Integrator. In plain English, she says she writes policy for the Army Reserve Components. Her office in the Pentagon was 2C450, the section directly above Flight 77’s point of impact on September 11, 2001. In the day’s earliest hours, the office was buzzing and she remembers a Sergeant Major saying, “I hope this day isn’t boring.”
Moments before the plane hit, Isabelle had stepped away from her cubicle and was talking with two officers about the attack at the World Trade towers and what her role might be in Pentagon response. After witnessing the second tower attack on an office television, Isabelle immediately called her husband and recounted the past horrific minutes in New York; she recalls saying, “Don’t worry about this building. We’re in a short building. No one would hit us!”
Soon thereafter, she was proven very wrong. When the plane hit the section directly beneath her, she remembers feeling as if she were watching an action movie. Surreal is the only way she can describe it. “It was a matter of where you were standing at the time,” she said. She feels so fortunate to have been able to get out.
In the days following the attacks, she and other survivors she knew felt a strange range of emotions, especially a tremendous guilt. On September 14, 2001, she and her colleagues got together for the first time since the attacks. She remembers her then boss, Colonel Manske, saying, “I can’t tell you how to pray, meditate or think, but I’ve been doing a lot of praying and God has told me that it just wasn’t my time yet.” That comment or advice put things into perspective for Isabelle and began the healing process for her and countless others.
Isabelle always says, “It was both my worst day and my best day, because that life-changing experience has made me strive to be a better person to my family and to the Army.”
Isabelle Slifer was a Coast Guard “brat” growing up, but claims Buffalo, New York as her home. She is retiring August 31st of this year having served a total of 30 years in the Army. Instead of hosting a get-together to celebrate her retirement, Isabelle has donated $500 to the Pentagon Memorial Fund to honor her colleagues who passed in the 9/11 attacks and to be a part of building a memorial that she feels will be a beautiful one for future generations to enjoy.
Her husband and two sons are doing great. After that day, her oldest son said, “Mom, no matter what time it is in the morning,wake me up to say goodbye!”
The Pentagon Memorial Fund would like to thank Isabelle for her thoughtfulness and generosity. Thanks for making a difference!