Friday, Sep 11
The weather here today in Northern Virginia is just like it was on September 11, 2001, fourteen years later. Fourteen years. How can that be? I was a young teacher, going about my business, teaching English Grammar to my students when a parent came to my door with a pad of post-it notes, names of students scribbled on it. She was asking teachers to have the students to get their things and come down to the office. The first time I thought to myself how odd it was that the secretary wasn’t just calling the students down like she usually did. And the mom who was fetching the children had such a serious and almost frightened look on her face. She kept coming back and finally I asked, “What is going on?” To be honest, I have no recollection of how she answered. Sometimes it’s difficult for me to think about the fact that we as a country will never be the same. We can’t un-see the images we saw on television. We can’t un-hear the recordings of the first responders and the survivors as they walked out of the the World Trade Center or the Pentagon, in shock and filled with fear. So it’s difficult for me to recall the first time I heard someone say, “Someone flew a plane into one of the Twin Towers.” It’s difficult for me to remember what it was like to watch the second plane hit the second tower on the news. One thing I remember so very clearly, though, is that those ten and eleven year old’s in my fifth grade classroom in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, needed me even though they had no idea what was going on. So we gathered around the statue of Our Lady that stood in our classroom, I passed out the rosaries, and we prayed, on our knees. Then, after some time, we were all called down to the gym where our pastor came to pray with us. And then, the gym emptied little by little. Sadly, a dad from our school community lost his life in the Pentagon that day. Oh, it was so very, very hard to see his precious 4th grade son in the hallway when he was ready to come back to school. No words for it, really. All the children made it home safely that day, as did I. My roommates and I gathered around the TV, just in disbelief at all that was being reported. The Hubs and I had just started dating a few weeks before, and he came over and took me out to dinner at a local diner where the TV’s were on. I’m fairly certain we didn’t have school the next day, or maybe we didn’t have school for the rest of the week even. That gave me a chance to catch up with my family members and hear about my brother in Jersey City who watched, from his apartment balcony, the second plane hit the second tower. How unreal. We were all so grateful that he didn’t go into the city on the Path Train to the Twin Towers that day as he so often did.
I wish the terrorist attacks of 9-11 never happened. I wish those precious young children in my class didn’t have to be afraid or worried about their safety, or anxious about leaving home and going back to school so close to the attacks. But I will always, always be proud of how our nation responded to such a dark time in its history. And I will remember.