Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Teacher's Memories of 9/11

This morning, I looked in my old journals to see what I had written about September 11th. I was very surprised when I found nothing. Not a word. But then I realized that it was so painful, so shocking that (like my mother's death) I have recorded nothing on  paper. There were simply no words at the time that expressed my response to it. And too, there was so much print and discussion devoted to it. What could be said that had not already been recorded?

Every American on the planet, old enough to remember, knows where they were  on September 11th, ten   years  ago. We remember when we first learned  of the series of attacks on our country. The disbelief. The shock. The fear of "what next? where next?". These feelings would continue in those coming weeks and indeed, in a way, we would never be the same again.  

I was in my classroom with my new crop of kindergartners. The school intercom announced that all teachers should read their email and that is how I learned of the plane crashes. There was an empty classroom adjoining my office. Someone had turned on the TV on low in there and I watched it while my children had lunch in the cafeteria. Some parents checked their children out of school and took them home.  I had a faithful volunteer who sent me a message that he would not be in to help, but would instead be flying to the Pentagon for duty as an Air Force Reservist. I remember thinking, "All these people are trying to get out of D. C. ---and he is flying in." (He lost friends that day.) I also had a kindergartner who was on a trip to Washington with her family and it was days before we knew that they were fine. I have a number of relatives in the D. C. area and, gradually, we would learn that they were all safe as well.

On September 12, we all came back to school again. We were told to let the children draw pictures of the attack if they wanted to. I remember thinking one little boy had seen WAY too much television coverage as he drew the people jumping out of the windows of the burning towers.

I chose the following song as part of our morning activities:

When the world seems like it's falling down, 
Don't let the blues get to you,
Chase away your frown.
Your troubles won't last forever, 
So get yourself together!
Come on and sing a happy song.....

The life of a five-year-old usually moves on quickly and I needed to be prepared to keep up. 

But it was years before a plane could cast its noonday shadow on the playground (where I was out with my class) and not cast a shadow on my heart. 

Those sweet things are now in high school. I see a couple of them off and on. I wonder what they remember about those days. And I wonder if the love and respect, compassion and forgiveness that I teach  to each class each day can help to stop the evil and destruction, hatred and greed in a world that is so large. 

It's certainly worth a try.

1 comment:

Island Rider said...

Very poignant and well said.