Sunday, September 11, 2011

Memories of September 11, 2001 - Ten Years Later

On this day ten years ago my class and I finally bonded. Our school was on a year round schedule at that time, and we had started our school year in early July. We had hardly started when I was off work for surgery and six weeks of recovery. As any teacher will tell you, there was a chance that, due to my absence, I would struggle to bond with this group for the remainder of the school year. That was not to be the case.

It is my habit to turn on the news in the morning and watch bits and pieces as I wake up, drink my coffee, and get ready to leave the house. That morning I saw the announcement of the first plane hitting the World Trade Center, and then live when the second plane hit. Still not comprehending exactly what was going on, I left for work on time.

I remember exactly where I was — the signal at Tyler and Hole — when I heard on the radio that the first tower fell. When I arrived at school all of the adults were talking about what they knew and gathering information someone else had heard. Most of the students at the elementary school were relatively unaware of what was happening, and even less aware of its meaning (although, looking back, few of us truly had any idea). But enough of the children had heard some of what had happened so that the word spread, and so did the fear and rumors.

The teachers and administrators spent much of the day calming fears and trying to maintain a normal schedule. When a recess or lunch occurred we would race to a location, usually the office, where we might be able to get some current news, to see what was happening. To shed a few tears. Back in class, as the news worsened, we did whatever it took to make the children feel safe. I did not cry in front of the students, but that was a hard won accomplishment. In twenty years, I only remember one other time when it was nearly impossible not to cry in front of my class and that is when I was told about a former student being shot to death. I had to turn away from them.

Although I had only been in the classroom a few days with these children, at some time (and I can not tell you when) we must have had a discussion about President Kennedy being assassinated. I had told them that I remember exactly where I was when I heard that news...sitting on a small hill in the playground at recess at the elementary school I went to.

But they remembered the conversation, these children, ten years ago! During one of our discussions during the course of the day, one of them raised their hand and said "This is going to be our President Kennedy, isn’t it, Ms. Prime? We will never forget this day." "Yes," I said, "I believe it will."

Although much of that day is a haze, I remember driving home, looking into the sky, and thinking how strange it was to know there were no planes up there. I remember watching the news that evening, finally being able to cry...and I cry today.

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