Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten.


Ten years have passed. Seems like yesterday, seems like an eternity.

I have been doing a lot of research about 9/11 so I can remind myself of the details (not the ones we all remember, but the numbers and such). I felt like, at age 11, it was time for Sunshine to know a little bit about what happened in her toddlerhood that forever changed everything in her world.

I read a statistic that says 20% of Americans know someone who died that day. I'm not sure if I agree with that statistic, or maybe it's denial. I did not personally know anyone who lost their life that day. For that, I feel blessed. But it doesn't make the day any less important to me.

My blood pressure rises, even now, when I think of that day. I was teaching 4th grade in small-town Texas at the time. It was the beginning of the year and I will still getting to know my kiddos. We started each day with math, and they were doing their warm up. The grade level aide knocked on my door and motioned me out to the hall. She told me that our country was under attack, that terrorists bombed the WTC, and that she would come back in a few minutes to update me. And then I had to walk back into my classroom full of 9 year olds, and try to stay composed while a million thoughts swirled in my mind.

First of all, what in the world was she talking about? Attack? Why? Who? And...then she came back to tell me more. Basically, she kept walking up and down the halls telling everyone what was going on. We had computers, but we couldn't sit and read the news all day because we were responsible for maintaining normalcy for our students. They had no idea what was going on. They had no idea what the buzz was about, no idea that our country had been rattled to its core.

The library windows were covered for an event, so the principal asked our librarian to set up a t.v. and told all of us that we could spend our planning period and lunch in the library, trying to make sense of the reports we'd been given all morning. I called Dylan as soon as I could get to a phone. He was a flight instructor at that time and was, of course, grounded until further notice. He was at his apartment watching the news, but said he would come over as soon as I was out of school.

The day dragged on and on. Nobody knew if we should tell the kids what was going on, or send them home and let their parents tell them. We were so worried that latch-key kiddos would get home and turn the t.v. on, see the news reports, and be scared and not understand. Many parents started picking their kids up early and taking them home. We decided not to tell anyone and just pray that they would be greeted by an adult.

Finally, as soon as the kids cleared out after school and I finished my prep for the next day, it was time to head home. I remember walking outside and noticing how blue the sky was: not a single cloud, nor a single airplane (I always noticed the airplanes overhead because Dylan often flew that way with his students). It was quiet. It was surreal.

Ten years later...an eternity it seems...and still surreal.

This morning, as I sat and watched my kids sit and watch the news, I realized that I will never forget even the small details of that day in my world. They are still clear in my mind. And today, I took this picture of the beautiful, cloudless blue sky.

God bless America. Never forget.

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