Significant Events

Former White House Chief Usher Gary Walters talks about the events that unfolded at the White House on Sept 11, 2001

On the morning of September 11, 2001, Gary Walters was the Chief Usher at the White House and preparing for the evening’s activity: the annual Congressional Picnic on the South Grounds. As the events of the morning unfolded, Walters and key staff members worked to clear the picnic tables from the grounds for the president’s certain return. When staff were told to evacuate to Lafayette Park, Walters told his own staff to “go north, not south,” because he felt that if a plane was headed for the White House, the approach would be from the south, endangering those in Lafayette Park. Walters says he is convinced that the plane that crashed in rural Pennsylvania was actually heading for the White House, and not the Capitol, as many believe.

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