Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering 9/11

Ten years ago I was a second-year eighth grade science teacher in Maryland. It was my planning period. I honestly don’t remember what I was doing. I think I was talking with another teacher. However, I do remember that it was the social studies teacher on my team that told us…or rather, showed us. He had been watching the news to talk about current events. He came into the room, turned on the television, and we watched the reporter try to explain what had happened to the first tower. As she floundered with the possibilities, we watched as the second plane flew into the other tower right behind her. How do reporters learn to just keep talking when everyone else is just dumbstruck?

I don’t remember when class started. Someone managed to look at the clock and we realized that the students were about to change classes. It had felt like an eternity and a moment all at the same time. Was it before the Pentagon attack and flight 93? I don’t know. I went to my room and turned on the news in there as well. The kids all knew before they got to my door. I spent that next class trying to comfort and reassure frightened children as we continued to watch the reports. I’m not sure how well I did. At some point we received instructions from the Principal to turn off the televisions and continue with the day as planned. We didn’t get much done that day. Actually, at least half of the children were taken out of school early by their parents.

I cried a lot that day. And the days that followed. I listened to the heart-wrenching stories of all those people: the ones that lived, the ones that died, the firefighters, the police officers, those who just happened to be walking by that day, the families of those who couldn’t be found, those in the towers, those in the Pentagon,  those brave people on flight 93 who stopped the fourth attack. All of them. Each and every person had a story and I listened to them all. And as I listened this morning before church to Amazing Grace being played at the memorial service, I cried again. During the video memorial at church, I cried again. And while I’m writing this, yes, I’m crying. Why? Those stories. Those people. They inspired America. Not to terror, but to pride.

T’was Grace that taught…

my heart to fear.

And Grace, my fears relieved.

How Precious did that Grace appear…

the hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares…

we have already come.

T’was Grace that brought us safe thus far…

and Grace will lead us home.

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