So I have several posts that need to be edited or written but I woke up this morning and felt that I needed to write about 9/11. Like everyone else in this country it’s on my mind today.
As I logged into Facebook I saw post after post and video after video about the tragedy that changed our lives and our world.
This was the first that I clicked on
I love that the song focuses on love.
Like every other American I remember where I was. I was just shy of 23 years old and standing in front of my very first classroom of students. I had been teaching for less than two full weeks.
The principal popped her head in during Bible and said, “A plane has struck one of the World Trade Centers, pray.”
I paused. I assumed she meant a little Cesna or something…. I couldn’t imagine a large plane. The students didn’t pay much attention at that point. But I also didn’t know how you could accidentally hit something so large.
About an hour later she appeared again and said, “Another has hit. This is no accident.”
The kids all started getting squirmy. I don’t think they understood but our tones were telling them something was going on. One of my students had family in NYC and another had a mother traveling home from up North.
There were so many questions and I knew nothing. I only knew the sick feeling in my stomach was increasing.
Finally I paused the lesson and told them to work quietly while I checked the internet. I promised to share with them what I found.
I typed in “World Trade Center” on the computer and the articles were quick one sentences. “Terrorists have hijacked at least four planes.” “New York and Washington DC have been attacked.” “World Trade Center on fire and people are jumping from the windows.”
There was false information about car bombs and more planes but what struck me wasn’t the short commentary but the pictures. Pictures of huge, gaping holes in the buildings. Of bodies flying through the air. Of terror and smoke.
Almost before I could process it myself I tried to figure out what to tell the students.
That was one of the most difficult things in my whole life. But I also knew that I couldn’t sugar coat it or hide much, this was something they would grow up with and see all over the news when they arrived home.
As the next half hour went on we were silent. Finally one of the boys asked if we could try the television in our room. The TV was primarily for tapes and DVDs, it never got much picture. But I said I’d try.
The instant I turned it on we got a grainy, snowy image of the towers with commmentary. After about five seconds one of the towers began to fall. The screen than filled with smoke and we couldn’t see any image between the destruction of the tower and the poor quality of the picture. I felt horrible, how had I managed to turn it on the moment something like that happened. How did that even happen?
The children were upset. I was upset.
Soon students started being pulled from class. We gave up all semblance of normalcy and I read aloud to them. I allowed them to work quietly and they all went to lunch in silence.
I began to worry about my then boyfriend who worked at one of the theme parks. Then I worried about my step father who worked in a bank. I started making calls…. to anyone. I was terrified.
Watching the video above just had me tears because I remember those feelings.
The tragedy was ours as a nation but it felt so personal. It felt like such a deeply personal attack and I didn’t even know anyone directly who was there. One of my brothers closest friends lives in New York and contacted us to tell us he was ok…. how he fled over the Brooklyn Bridge to escape the debries as the building fell. Another of my close friends let us know he was safe.
Still ten years later it’s unbelievable. But amidst all that tragedy there are so many beautiful stories of people going up the stairs to rescue those who could not get down. Of amazing acts of herorism and valor.
For those who attacked us and caused such tragedy they also showed the world what the men and women of this country are capable of, they showed the world (and us) the good in us. I was stunned by the image of the firefighter going up the stairs, when they knew the other tower had just fallen. Of the stories of co-workers who carried thier wheel-chair bound friend down countless stairs. The stories of last minute phone calls home to tell loved ones what was going on still move me to tears. I’m so proud of those men on the flight who took down the hi jackers over Pennsylvania.
What I’m saying isn’t anything new… it’s what everyone is saying today. And that’s because it’s true.
But, I look at my daughter and I hope…. I hope she never has to live through a day like 9/11, either as a direct participant or as a watcher, like me. I pray that she never has to witness something worse. And I’m afraid because I don’t feel confidant that she won’t.
I know it’s a common parent concern, what type of world am I leaving behind for my child?
And while I worry that there may be more violance and senseless acts of terror…. I will choose to focus on the fact that the world I am leaving her is full of heroes. Ordinally men and women who are full of love. Who will step up and act in extraordinary ways to help strangers. Men and women who will move mountains and risk their own lives for her.
And I hope I can raise her to be one of those people who will do the same for others.