Sunday, September 11, 2011

We Cannot Forget

I've been deliberately avoiding any of the TV shows focused on the anniversary of the 9/11/01 terrorist attacks. Honestly, I'm afraid to watch any of the coverage because I know I will be upset. But the men and women who died that day and the men and women who have fought for our freedom and to keep us safe since deserve my attention this day:

On the morning of 9/11, I was in my tiny classroom and only a few weeks into my first year of teaching. As our students were preparing to switch classes, our principal came in and pulled me and two other teachers out into the hallway. He looked distraught and said, "Y'all, the US has been attacked." Even typing this gives me the chills, as I can still hear his voice as clear as if he stood next to me now.

Our school had only about 50 kids and 7 staff members at the time. We were a family. None of us wanted to be inside a building and none of us wanted to work. Our secretary fielded phone calls like a seasoned pro. We teachers took all the kids outside to play while we tried to decide what to do with the kids and how much to tell them. We were all on cell phones calling our own families and telling them we loved them. I borrowed the 1st grade teacher's phone to call my mother who, at the time, worked in Massachusetts. While I was on the phone with her, my brother called her on another line.

As a staff, we decided to sit the kids down (the 2nd through 6th graders) and explain what had happened in simple terms. And then we went back to work, to make it feel like a regular day to children who were already spooked.

As a country I know we are not perfect. We are not always fair. We are not always kind. But that morning and for several days after we joined forces to help each other and to show the world that the senseless act of terrorism would not break us.

And on this day, 10 years later, I will say an extra prayer or two for those who suffered that day and in the days since in the struggle to keep our country safe. We are the United States of America, the land of the free, the home of the brave.

God Bless America

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