SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — ABC News' Terry Moran spoke with ABC 10News anchors Jim Patton and Virginia Cha on Thursday about his experiences in the White House press room as the Sept. 11 attacks unfolded 20 years ago.
Moran said he was in the press area of the White House awaiting President George W. Bush's return from Florida, as he and other journalists watched the attacks in New York City unfold.
Then a Secret Service agent burst into the room.
"'Everybody out now!' And I reached for the phone to tell the folks here at the ABC News bureau in Washington the White House is evacuating, and an agent, who I knew because I came into the White House every day, screamed at me again, 'I said now!'" Moran recalled. "And I got up and walked out and the White House was in a panic. One of the most tightly controlled, most secure locations in the world. People were running for their lives. They'd opened the gates onto Pennsylvania Avenue.
"And I'll never forget as we ran because they were telling us to run, Secret Service agents telling the women 'take your shoes off if you're wearing heels, so you can run for your life faster.' We ran for a couple of blocks, turned around, and saw the smoke coming up across the river where the Pentagon plane had hit."
Looking back, Moran said he believes the political divisions that divide many today began on that tragic day in 2001.
"I remember thinking at the time, this will bring us together. This will bring this country together. And it did — briefly. But I think, one of the things we're living with now, these terrible political divisions we are experiencing today, I think in many ways they had their origin in that day of shock and horror. It ended up, I think, dividing us," Moran said.