Thursday, September 11, 2008

Where Were You?

I remember September 11, 2001. I was student teaching at Squaw Peak Elementary School in Phoenix, AZ. I left for work a little bit after 6am (fighting rush hour), and remember turning on my car radio to find that every station I had in "memory" was playing the news. I didn't start paying attention until the 4th or 5th button I hit, realizing that something was going on. I began listening to the reporters talking about planes flying into the World Trade Center, and I was utterly confused. It was as if I were listening to "War of the Worlds" and wondering if this was some kind of joke. I called a friend of mine, woke her up, and asked her to turn on the TV to tell me what she saw. Her silence and gasp on the other end confirmed that this was not a joke. The next bit of news indicated that another plane had flown into the Pentagon. By the time I reached my school parking lot it was close to 7:00AM and the South tower collapsed as I was still sitting in my car. The reporters voice was shaking, there was screaming in the background, and the utter chaos of the situation could be felt through the radio waves.

The sixth grade teaching team gathered together in one classroom as we arrived at school and watched the horror of the events that had occurred on television. Just prior to the time we needed to open our classroom doors for our students to come in, the second tower collapsed. We were all horrified and everyone in the room was thinking the same thing... how were we going to pull ourselves together to respond to the questions of 12-year-olds who would be entering the door in a few moments having seen these images in their homes right before coming to school. Looking back, I'm not sure how we did it, but teachers do that all the time. Teaching is a job where no matter what happens in your personal life, no matter what danger is going on around you, your job is to push that aside and put the kids first. I honestly have no idea what I taught that day, but I am sure it centered more around life lessons than textbook lessons.

Today Eli and I went down to Tempe Town Lake to see the 3000 flag memorial. Tied to each flag pole was a card that contained a picture and information about each person who died on 9/11. It was sobering to see many stuffed animals tied to flag poles as well - those were the flags symbolizing every child that died. Eli hugged some of the animals and I showed him the picture of the little 2-year-old girl whom you can see on the left. Although he has no idea what any of this means, his response to her picture was "it's wike (like) Eli." So true, Eli, so true... it could have been any of us.

May we always take time to remember...

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