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Beginning the week after the 2001 attacks, "Target Sitting" carries readers through that heart-pounding day, the anthrax attack on Capitol Hill, and the full body shudder associated with working at the seat of government in the ensuing years. To deal with pressure and anxiety, Cathy Travis wrote a journal, a detailed rendition of the life and times of a wartime Capitol under attack from hostile forces inside the country.
Kindle Digital Publishing (2011)
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (7/11)
The last seven years of Cathy Travis’s twenty-five years of service working on Capitol Hill were incredibly stressful due to being a “target sitter” for terrorists. Prior to the 911 attacks security on the “Campus” was always a concern because the Capital Building would be a prime choice for terrorists to attack to gain maximum worldwide exposure. Concerns about how these attacks could occur were thought of and discussed however; it wasn’t until 911 that reality struck so close to home. Literally.
Knowing that one of the three planes involved in 911 had been headed for the place where Cathy worked hit her very hard. While appreciating that the heroes on the plane saved her life by diverting it, she still had to deal with the fact that she was inside the intended target. Additional crises worldwide and within our nation after this time, further increased her stress levels. At the recommendation of a counselor from Human Resources, Cathy put the power of her pen to use in two ways. The first way was to seek release by writing out her feelings about the events that were occurring following this tragedy. The second way was to share her story with the world.
By reading “Target Sitting” the reader’s eyes are opened to the daily stresses of working in a building that is constantly under threat of attack. By hitting both a national symbol and our leaders, the United States would definitely be brought down a couple of notches. Learning about how the system is set up to make sure that our government has a back-up plan for leadership is reassuring. However, I also found it disconcerting to learn about glitches within the actual security of the building. Like the author, I hope that these issues have been corrected. She had a first-hand experience of seeing how bad communication was when she reported seeing a man who resembled a known terrorist within the area of the capital. Her concerns were not immediately followed up upon and dismissed. This is not reassuring at all.
Having to endure the memories of evacuating during 911, the anthrax attacks, false alarms at the capital (namely by planes who fly into the No Fly Zone) and other attacks that occurred worldwide takes a toll on one’s health and soul. By sharing her story, I am hoping that the author will receive some healing from knowing that she is helping others to wake up to the reality of what is happening both within and outside of our country. It is scary.
Written in a casual journal-like style, I truly felt like I was reading the private journal of a friend. The only thing missing was the handwriting. As I read through Cathy’s experiences, I relived many of my own thoughts and feelings about what was happening at the time. She also opened my eyes to some things that I did not realize had happened. I suspect part of this was due to her proximity to national leadership. I also think that part of this was due to my mentally blocking what was happening at the time. Having family members personally involved with 911 and some in the military at the time, I don’t think I let myself fully let everything sink in. Sitting and looking back, Cathy gave me what I needed to fill in a lot of blanks. This book is highly recommended for all Americans. It will definitely make you think.