Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11/01 - I will never forget

There is a song that asks "Where were you when the world stopped turning, on that September Day?" and I can say that I will never forget that day. Even 10 years later I can picture exactly where I was and what was going on. 

When I was younger I could remember my mom telling me that she could remember exactly where she was and what she was doing when she heard that JFK had been shot. I had no concept of a memory that vivid. I thought there was no way she could really remember every detail of something that happened so long ago, before I was even born. Well I have to say that after the events of September 11, 2001 I can say that I know exactly what she meant. 

I can remember every detail of the day. I was in my 2nd year of teaching, and I was teaching kindergarten at Mollie Ray Elementary School. I had just dropped my kinder babies off at specials and was walking towards the office, one of the 4th grade teachers came out of her room and said "Did you hear? The World Trade Center has been bombed" I remember blowing it off and saying "Oh geez, again?" because I remembered the earlier, much smaller, attack on the WTC that didn't warrant too much media attention. She said to me "no this time they did it with planes" This got my attention and I quickly made my way to office to see what was going on. When I walked in the office, it was silent as everyone stared at the television and the site of both towers burning. I asked again what had happened and the receptionist said that 2 planes had flows right into the towers. I ran back to my classroom where a few of my teammates were hanging out, I turned on the television in my room and told them what little I knew. The pre-K teacher was standing at my backdoor (which lead to the playground where her class was playing) and we all watched as the buildings burned. We just watched almost mesmerized and we kept talking about the people on the plane and on the floors where they had hit and how terrible it must have been for them and we all hoped that it had been quick and painless. As we stood their watching and discussing how the firefighters and rescuers would get to the people above the burning floors, we all cried out in horror as we watched the side of the south tower begin to give away and then the entire building collapse. My classroom was filled with gasps, cries, and "oh dear God all those people!" We were all crying and staring at the television. It was almost surreal. My best friend looked at me and said "our entire life and world as we know it will never be the same." How prophetic and right she was. We had to tear ourselves away from the television to pick our our innocent babies who had no idea the world had just stopped and started spinning in a whole new way. We were afraid because as it was time to get our kids we were hearing about the pentagon being hit and other possible targets, I wanted to go get my own children at their schools and go home but I couldn't. There was no way I could teach the lessons I had planned for that day but I had to carry on for my little ones. We had our snack, and I put in a CD to let them sing and dance - while I made phone calls to my dad to see what all was going on. Parents started showing up to take their children home. By lunch time I only had 6 kids left in my classroom. My best friend and I put our classes together so that we could comfort each other and take turns keeping up on what was happening in the "outside" world. When we heard about the plane that had crashed in Pennsylvania we were saying "Dear God, what else is going to happen today?" it seemed like it was just getting worse and worse. This was before the time of mass cell phone use so no one in my family had one. I was relying on my dad, who was at home, to keep me updated. I had no way of contacting my husband, who worked out in the field, I wanted nothing more than to get to my own children and get them home where we would all be safe. 
At the end of the day when I got home my older son came running up to me crying and saying "Mommy one of those planes was going to come to Florida" it broke my heart that he already knew what was going on and was terrified that something bad was going to happen here in Florida (he had gotten confused by a news report he heard talking the white house being a possible target and President Bush was here in Florida). I reassured him that he was safe. My youngest son was in 2nd grade and all he knew was what his brother had told him, and seeing his big brother so scared, obviously scared him too. There was no escape for the children, even Nickelodeon, the children's network, was airing footage of the 2nd plane crashing into the South Tower. So I put in a DVD for my boys and let them have one more night of a world that wasn't filled with terrorists who hated Americans and took their hate out on innocent victims. 

It is a day I will never forget, and even now 10 years later the memories come back and the tears flow again. It was a terrible day in our nation's history. It changed our world as we knew it. Now tomorrow I have to teach 4th graders about this terrible attack, most of whom were not even born when it happened. There whole life has been in this world where terrorists exist and attack without warning and without cause. They don't even know that there was a time when we weren't afraid of what might happen tomorrow. 

Where were you when the world stopped turning on that September day?

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