Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Where Were You?

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

That's the title and first line of a song by Alan Jackson about the terrorists attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.

When it happened, I remember reporters saying, "This is a day people will never forget.  Just like when Kennedy was assassinated, people will always remember exactly where they were and what they were doing when they heard this horrible news."

It's twelve years later and, sadly, I think those reporters were correct.

I remember.  I remember that I was in my classroom at the elementary school where I taught special needs preschoolers.  Because of my students' various disabilities, I had therapists - occupational, physical, speech - coming into my classroom everyday.  It was from one of them that we heard about the first plane crash.  Then another and another.

(For my children reading this:  This was before the existence of iPhones.  We had "old fashioned" cell phones that were only good for actually making calls.  There was no texting and not instant internet connectivity.)

It didn't take long for school administrators to announce that we were not to turn on the TV's in our classrooms or get on the internet.  They were afraid the images would be too disturbing for the children.  Some staff members were scurrying about trying to reach family members.  Others were buzzing with various details they had heard.

Finally, right after lunch, it was naptime in my classroom.  We put the children down to rest and turned on the soothing music.  That day, every child fell asleep which was very rare.  Once we were certain they were all snoozing soundly, we broke the rules and turned on our TV.  We muted the sound so we didn't wake the children.  Therefore, all we had were the images and the captions.  That was all we needed really.  The images said it all.

I know my children will see the images - in history books, on the computer, and on the TV every year on September 11th.  What I want them to know, though, is the feeling.  We all felt overwhelmed with grief for our country and our fellow citizens.  We were scared becasue of the uncertainty about what might happen next.  That grief quickly turned to pride, patriotism, and solidarity.  For months, people flew American flags at their homes, at their businesses, and from their car windows.  Briefly, there were no differences among the people of our country - we were all just Americans and we were in it together.

Before the first anniversary of September 11th, we had our first daughter and our lives had changed immensely in many ways.  Today, I see so much violence and hatred in the world.  I have to wonder what kind of world we are handing down to our children.  What kind of events will they witness and remember forever?  I hope they are good ones.  I hope that, if they are tragic ones, they will feel the same sense of unity and hope and triumph that I sensed in the weeks after 9-11.

So, where were you on September 11, 2001 when you first heard the news?  Do you remember?   


The Shitastrophy said...

Just like you I will never forget. I was at work. My husband called me to tell me the news. We were married for 2 weeks at this point. Horrible. I watch the film now and see the pictures and still can't get over it. I can never understand why someone has so much hatred towards other people and how they could do such a horrendous thing. My kids are now at the age that they are asking what 9/11 means. As I explain it to them as best as I can I am always at a loss on explaining why. Why would someone do that mom? I don't know and I never will.

Lisa @ The Golden Spoons said...

It is so hard to explain to the kids! I want them to know the truth, but I don't want them to live in fear either. So hard to know what to say~

Tamara Bowman said...

I was in college, in the dining hall and it came on the news. I was tuning it out but a boy at another table heard and screamed and ran out. Classes were canceled and everything was mayhem. I wasn't far from NYC so I imagine it was different for us than places very far away. We thought we might all be under attack too.

Lisa @ The Golden Spoons said...

I was in NC, so not nearly as close, but it really was scary wasn't it? We didn't know if it was over or what the next target would be.

Elizabeth said...

I was sitting in my freshman u.s. history class at TCU. Ironic that it was that class, huh? I was back in my dorm room studying before I heard the news from my boyfriend. It amazes me how slowly news raveled just 12 years ago. I love your description of the emotions that ran through our country on 9/11 and during the following months. It's hard for me to believe it was 12 years ago.

Martha said...

Gordy, Henry and I were sleeping off jet-lag from our trip home from California the night before. The fact that the planes had left Boston and were headed to California only a day (a week, rather) after we had taken the same trip, was horrifying to us both.

Gordy's office was let out early - all of Boston was. The Chairman of his company spoke to the employees before they left, saying "Go home and hug your children." That night, after we had put Henry to bed, Gordy and I went out onto our back deck and watched the fighter planes circle Boston. Every ten minutes they would whoosh past our house. It was eerie yet strangely comforting.

It's still hard to believe that such a horrendous thing happened. Our children will probably feel the same way about The Boston Marathon Bombing.

Lisa @ The Golden Spoons said...

It is hard to believe it has been 12 years and to see how much technology has changed since then.

Lisa @ The Golden Spoons said...

Wow! Watching the fighter planes must have certainly been eerie and comforting all at once. We were a little further away here in NC, but lots of businesses here let out early as well.

Christy Garrett said...

I was on my way home from picking up my daughter from school and when I tried to get on the military base that I was living on, I remember they were checking id's and making sure that you had a legit reason to be on base. I turned on the television and it was so surreal watching the planes hit those towers.

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