I look back 10 years ago...
That Tuesday morning started off just like any other morning for me. I got up. Got ready for work. I was finishing up my 3rd or 4th week of teaching 3rd grade. The world was still a safe place.
You see, I'd graduated from college the previous December and here I was, fulfilling my dream, teaching 3rd grade. I'd always wanted to be a teacher. Ever since I was in 3rd grade and decided I wanted to grow up to be just like Mrs. Clark. But anyway, I digress.
The schoolday started off like the others so far this year. My class of 19 arrived and we started our day with Math. Then around 8:30, my kids joined another class for PE. This was my conference period. I remember it clearly. I was on the phone with a parent when the teacher in the room next to mine screamed. I dropped the phone and ran to her room. She had tears streaming down her face and said that her husband called to tell her to turn on the TV. And that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. I shook my head to fully grasp it. And my eyes were drawn to the TV. I was watching a replay of what only moments before had happened. There was smoke coming out of the top floors of the World Trade Center. And then the second plane hit. And not long after, the Pentagon.
I couldn't believe what I was watching. All of a sudden, my mental image of a safe, secure world was shattered. I was numb. The parent conference I was in the midst of conducting all of a sudden didn't really matter anymore. I don't remember if I finished the conference or not. The rest of the day was rather subdued. Parents started picking up their kids. The administration would send the librarian or one of the music teachers or someone from the office to the classrooms to get the child or children whose parents were there to pick up the kid. Sure the kids were wondering what was going on and why this child or that child was going home. They were also wondering why the teachers were not teaching class as usual. By lunchtime I had about 5 kids left in my class. I combined my class with two other teachers and we plugged in an educational video (or several of them) and let the kids watch them. We were glued to the news. The scheduled faculty meeting was canceled.
I got home. Somehow. Mom hadn't gotten home yet. But she got there shortly. I turned on the TV. I didn't care what channel I put it on, I just wanted it on. I saw the towers collapse.
The images that poured over the news that day and the rest of the week were startling. We may have had Bible Study that night. I don't really know. I remember that even if we didn't, the house was soon filled with the members of the Bible Study. There was a special service at the church the next night. I'd never seen the place so packed. And again on Sunday.
War and terrorism were real to me now. And I realized that in those moments I grew up. I no longer thought that America was safe. Safe from terrorism. Safe from attack. No longer.
I remember also sitting at lunch with my other teachers and one of them asking me how I could be so calm. I didn't feel calm. But I guess I had an outward appearance of calm. My reply to her was this "Even if something were to happen right here right now, I'm not worried. If I die, I'll immediately be sheltered in the arms of Jesus." I'd never been quite that bold before.
Words of patriotic songs took on new meanings. Heroes were found in the ordinary. I know that I gained a new appreciation for the police and the fire departments.
The last few days I've had the Alan Jackson song "Where Were You When The World Stopped Turning" running through my mind. I'm not the biggest fan of country music. Yet for some reason, these lines "Where were you when the world stopped turning on that September day?
Were you teaching a class full of innocent children" kept going through my head. Probably because I was teaching a class of innocent children.
I've grown up hearing how my mom felt when she got the news that Kennedy had been shot. My grandparents telling stories of December 7, 1941. Sure, I remember the Challenger explosion. I was actually sitting at school watching it. But as a child, it didn't register with me. This did. It's knowing that I was an adult at the time that this major piece of history happened. And that the world will never be the same again.
I'm linking a few of youtube videos that I think pay a powerful tribute. I take no credit for these videos. I think they're beautiful.
I'd love to be able to share the video lesson that my brother put together (or found) for his teaching on 9-11.
I know that this post is a bit different than most of mine. But I really wanted to reflect.