As far as I am concerned, everyone remembers 9/11/2001. It was a day of great sadness for America, as well as a day that took measure of the depth of human strength and companionship.
As a school teacher, it often falls on me to “take stock” of the general student population. Today, when we took a moment of silence to remember the lives lost during this tragic event at exactly 8:46 a.m. (the time the first plane crashed into the World Trade Centers), I got to thinking about how much the culture of America has changed since that fateful day. Out of curiosity, I asked my students how many of them were actually born before 9/11/2001… Half my class did not raise their hands. I guess I knew already that this was the reaction I was going to get from my students, but it was still an extremely surreal experience.
Remembering 9/11 is one of my most vivid memories from childhood (or adolescence, I guess): I was in the sixth grade at Creekland Middle School in Mrs. Patterson’s homeroom class. Our day had just started. The Social Studies teacher (Mr. Reeseman) shared a wall with Mrs. Patterson, and I remember that his morning routine included turning on CNN before the bell rang and announcements came on. Looking back, I feel like he probably did this because he just wanted to watch the news each morning and didn’t want to be bothered to get up early enough to watch it at home before he left for school (I can’t say I really blame him). Anyway, on 9/11, I remember him running into Mrs. Patterson’s class to tell her she needed to turn the television on right then to see what had happened. She turned it on in time for our class to see the second plane hit. I remember the shock and disbelief I felt from the adults at my middle school, but I didn’t fully understand it. Fairly soon after, the Assistant Principals were going around to different classrooms, trying to explain the magnitude of this momentous and very tragic event to a bunch of scared middle school students. People kept getting checked out of classes by the droves all day long. I didn’t quite grasp it at eleven years old, but now I see the significance of my experience and the experiences of thousands of other people like me.
I couldn’t imagine being a teacher on 9/11/2001. My heart and my gratitude go out to all those wonderful men and women who were teaching when they found out about the World Trade Centers crashing down. I couldn’t imagine being in the same position they were, trying to control their own uncertainty and fear for the sake of the children they taught and served. One of my good friends posted an absolutely beautiful article on her own blog, relaying her experience as an educator on 9/11. (You can read it here).
I love hearing about other people’s experiences on 9/11. It makes me feel more connected to people. Please share yours in the comments below!