Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11/01 - Remembering - 10 years later...

It was a beautiful Tuesday morning. The news was broadcasting in the background as I finished getting ready for school. I walked into my living room and saw my first glimpse of what would be countless images that are ingrained in my memory.
I found myself riveted to the television as the events of the day started to unfold. I pulled myself away and made my way across the street to my classroom. At the time, I was teaching Kindergarten for half of the day and 6th grade for the other half. I wondered - how do you address a situation of this magnitude with elementary school kids. How do you try to help children understand something that is beyond understanding to even adult minds? As the day wore on and updates came in we learned of the extent of the terrorist acts in New York, Washington D.C., and Pennsylvania.

My Kindergartners knew "bad men" had hurt people, but that was the extent of their understanding. My 6th graders had a greater understanding of the events, but still had no idea the depth of the tragedy. I remembered looking up in the sky and seeing it eerily clear - no contrails, no light shining off of jets flying overhead. Over the next days and weeks images were shared with the world detailing the new reality that faced us. And yet what was striking to me, beyond the tragedy was the sense of unity that was apparent in those first days and weeks. It seemed that party lines were dropped and people treated each other as human beings worthy of compassion and consideration instead of rancor and dismissal.

Ten years have passed and in many ways things have returned to "normal." Sadly, normal in some ways means that we have forgotten the feelings that brought us together. Argument and divisiveness have replaced that short period of time when it seemed that differences could be addressed in a civil manner. I hope that it doesn't take another tragedy of this magnitude to remind us that though we may not always agree we are ultimately "one nation, under God, indivisible."

 Tomorrow I will talk with my class about the events of 10 years ago. The father of one of my students has offered to share some of the photos he took of  New York soon after 9-11. The Kindergarten teacher has also offered to share pictures she took about 10 months after 9-11.

I wonder in the future if my students will remember this as their Pearl Harbor, or JFK moment. Or will it be a small asterisk in a history book that is glossed over and quickly covered. I hope not. I hope that we learn from our history so that we do not repeat it.

After 9-11, I heard a song that summed up how I felt then, and how I still feel. I share it here.

May we always remember and never forget.

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