Saturday, September 10, 2011

Remembering 9/11


This is a repeat post.  
Ten years ago on September 11th, I strolled down to the kitchen of our high school to enjoy a cup of coffee with our school cooks. It was part of the daily routine of starting the school day. When I arrived on this day, they had been listening to the radio and told me to go back to my room and turn on the TV because a plane had flown into the World Trade Center.

Every room had a TV for Channel One News. (I missed those after the tornado, and I'm glad to have them again.) I turned it on in time to see the 2nd plane hit. I was stunned. Katie Couric, on NBC's Today Show, was flustered. I had no idea what was going on, but I knew it was something big.

I had first hour plan period in those days. I was glued to my television. When students came in to start 2nd hour, a few of them already knew what was going on and begged me to leave the set on. Others were stunned. The same scene replayed itself as classes came and went. The kids didn't want to turn it off. They would continue on their schoolwork, but they wanted to watch. My classroom is usually full of energetic, noisy teenagers.  They were silent, shocked, and horrified.  So was their teacher.
 
We watched the people jumping, and continued watching while the towers fell. We saw people fleeing, covered in layers of ash. We heard about the plane in Pennsylvania and the one at the Pentagon. It seemed more like a movie than reality. We were speechless. We were waiting for answers. The answers would take a long time to come.

One boy was called to the office. His mom was there to pick him up. His half brother worked in one of the towers. (We would find out later that he survived.) They were panicked for news and wanted to wait it out at home, together.

I didn't have any friends or relatives in the towers, but I felt the same. I wanted my girls, who were both in college, to be home and safe. One said she went to class and was sent home and told to watch the news. The other said she had thought it strange as she walked across campus to see every jet stream in the sky making a U-turn.

For the next few days when we traveled interstate, we saw license tags from Western States headed East. (Airline travel had been suspended.) Once in awhile, you would see tears streaming down the face of someone in the car. I always imagined they were headed to NYC to check on a loved one who had been in the towers or on a plane.

Our students began taking trips out to an overpass near tiny town. Every hour of the school day, our students waved American flags to drivers from an overpass over our busy interstate. (A big flag would hang on that bridge for months.) Buses rotated students out to the overpass and then back to class. It was quite emotional to see a group of 30-50 kids, reminding all those vehicles that love of country would never die. There was a lot of honking and waving and encouragement.

In the long run, the flag waving probably didn't mean much. But I think for the students of our school, it gave them the realization that they were part of something much bigger than themselves. They could share in the grief of others. They could reach out in whatever small way they were able. When I saw even some of the most jaded, apathetic students joining in the flag waving, they gave me hope that the future of this country would be in caring hands. And that when we really need each other, we'll all be there.

10 comments:

elk said...

goosebumps still...

Gayle said...

Tears in my eyes, mrs. e.

SEB said...

I remember going out there to wave flags for more than one class. It was awesome that we could do that. I love reading your blog Mrs. E. Especially when you talk about old memories or things from the H.S. You make me tear up and laugh sometimes in the same post! On September 11, 2001 I was a junior. I was in Chemistry 1st hour so, coming back across the street people were saying things and we didn't have a clue what was going on. I remember running to 2nd hour college phsych and everyone almost begging Mr. Hall not to turn the TV's off. I think we all really appreciated that we got to watch the news throughout the day and feel a little bit like we knew what was going on. People talk about remembering the moment they heard the news. I can remember almost the entire day. Down to gas lines at Casey's and the FFA meeting that night. Thanks you for reminding me about the flag waving and about the good friends and caring teachers we spent that day with.

Puna said...

So right mrs. e. I'm glad to know that everything is right with the world now.

2Thinks said...

I remember it about the same way. The kids and I had gathered with neighbors for a back to school kick-off party- homeschool style. We had 7 homeschooling families on our street at that time. Someone had called the host and told her to turn the set on and we gasped in horror, not knowing what to think or do as we saw the same scenes you describe here.

I think it is important for kids and all to know that we are a part of something greater than ourselves- a part of a large community of people who should care about each other, though we don't all know each other. So, the flag waving- yes, I can see the importance of it, actually. Thanks for sharing that.

I think living for Jesus and sharing the love of Christ with anyone we can in whatever ways we can is probably our highest calling on this earth. I think everyone has that in them whether they actually realize it or not, since God created all people in His image- believers and non.

joyce said...

From the other side of the border, I have empathy for you Americans about such a tragedy, but, not actually knowing anyone "down there", it was, like so many international tragedies, something that happened to someone else. Reading the different blogs during this period has made it more personal for me, and I thank you all for that.

Mrs. E said...

Joyce, I know exactly what you're talking about. When it isn't our country, few of us see it the same.

SEB- I forgot all about the gas line at Casey's. I think you girls all left cheer practice because you were so worried about getting in line! Thanks for reminding me. I'm glad you stop by, girl!

Steve Gravano said...

My family and I were at Disney in Florida on 9.11.01. We just finished the long line into "It's a Bugs Life" when they announced they were closing the park due to "world events." No one had a clue as we filed out of the big tree theater. We heard things on our walk to the parking lot, but we weren't prepared for what we heard on the car radio. I kept thinking of Orson Wells, it was so surreal.Our flight back home was canceled and Alamo, the rental car company let us take the car up to New Jersey where they had a rental center. I felt so helpless as a New Yorker.

Sarah (Detrich) Burton said...
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Brandy Moore said...
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