Thursday, September 11, 2008

September 11

Seven years ago today, I was teaching fourth grade at Trinity School. Magister Meyer had just come in to teach Latin and I was free for a half hour. I headed down to the office to see if there was fresh coffee. Instead, I found the receptionists crowded around a radio. When I asked what was going on, I was told that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center.

Before September 11, 2001, I was not aware of The World Trade Center or the Twin Towers. Surprising, because my dad grew up in New York. Until that day, however, they were not a working part of my NYC vocabulary. Now, they will never not be.

Trinity's administration decided not to tell the elementary age kids about the planes flying into the Twin Towers. So I spent the rest of the day peeking at what news I could find online and putting on a happy face for my kids. When I left work and arrived at home, I parked myself in front of the TV, devouring any piece of information that was given. Like the rest of us, I'm sure I watched too much video of the Towers. I vividly remembering hitting my saturation point. I could not take one more image of people fleeing or buildings falling.

There were many conversations with my 9 and 10 year old students. Many prayers spoken, whispered and simply thought. Memorial services held. Tears shed, too many to count.

Seven years later, it's just as tragic, just as gutwrenching. Someone turned on the TV in our waiting room today. I watched as family members called out the names of their loved ones. I held back tears as our presidential candidates set aside their campaigns to honor the men and women lost, grateful for their presence at the memorial site. Once again, I prayed for families I will never know.

Where were you seven years ago today?

7 comments:

  1. I was working at Merrill Lynch - it sends chills to this day! What a horrific event.

    I hate to post anything light and airy here as I do not want to seem disrespectful - but you should totally read the Twilight Series - AMAZING! Nothing heady or serious, but STephanie Meyer writes one amazing love story and I (along with millions of other tweens) am HOOKED!!!!

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  2. i was in the bathroom drying my hair, getting ready for work.

    i actually saw the 2nd plane hit the 2nd tower live on nbc.

    i didn't know about the other 2 planes until i got to work, though.

    so, so sad.

    ****

    and, yes you should read the twilight series. very good.

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  3. I was sitting in my office at Trinity when my mother called to relay a message about the first plane hitting the one tower. I pulled out the little 6" black and white TV, which we kept to watch live weather reports, and I was glued to that tiny fuzzy screen watching the train wreck get worse and worse over and over. Each time I called the front office to give them an update, it was surreal, I mean this was the stuff of Armageddon movies. It was impossible to believe that it WAS happening AND ON PURPOSE.

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  4. I was sitting on my bed, having just gotten home from working overnight. I will never forget that moment of watching the second plane fly into the WTC.

    I still spend the 11th watching the coverage of the name reading. I will not watch any of the other coverage. It is still too raw.

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  5. Anonymous9:27 AM

    I was knee deep in fabrics working w/ my clients at Boyles Furniture. Nonchalantly, I looked up to see the huge showroom eerily empty except for us and a couple browsing. No one at the catalogues or copier or even the fresh, warm Otis Spunkmeyer cookie station and so quiet! Surely someone was in the lounge. Quickly dashing upstairs, I pushed the door open to see a room packed w/ customers and about 40 staff, silent and riveted to the TV screen as the horror played out live in front of us. Our clientele comes from all over the country and world so the remainder of the day was distracted and somber. At once, the collective high of buying more furniture took it's proper perspective, superfluous "wood, hay and stubble". The air became filled instead w/ hushed conversations, sales put on hold, cell phones ringing as customers checked on family members near and far. And still today, the visceral feeling of shock. Disbelief. Sadness. Did it happen, really, 7 years ago?
    - Marmee

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  6. I had just taken a group of 4th graders for a Latin class. My headmaster caught my attention and told me that a plane or maybe two planes had just hit the World Trade Center. We had already seen a small prop plane embed itself in one of the towers, and just a few weeks before 9/11, some idiot had gotten himself tanged up on the Statue of Liberty. But when two planes hit the same structure, it's not an accident.

    When I handed the class back over, I was told 1) that they weren't just planes, but commercial jetliners and 2) that we were going to keep it quiet and let the kids finish the day as normally as they could.

    Later, my headmaster stopped me to say that one of the towers had collapsed, but that he wasn't sure what that meant. I've always had a vivid imagination, and have been quick to adapt to new situations and surroundings. I remember telling him, "it will have been something like when they implode a building, but messier. Buildings are mostly empty space, like atoms or foam. And if an upper section breaks away and falls, it will be like dropping one building on top of another."

    It was a day of acting normal for the kids, punctuated by hushed conversations in hallways when kids weren't around. The last thing I remember saying to my headmaster before going home was, "is someone going to be looking out for the [Arab last name] family? There's going to be a backlash, and it might start sooner rather than later."

    The family I had in mind included a fifth grader named Nicholas, who drove his classroom teacher crazy. Nicholas had the most rich and rewarding interior life of any child I've ever met. You could not punish him with solitary confinement, because he would never be bored. He was completely guileless and extraordinarily creative (which meant that he was also often lost in his own little world). For months, he had a pet paperclip named Charlie with whom he carried on conversations and had adventures. And I knew that his family, and many other families guilty of nothing more than looking middle-eastern, were in for a rough time.

    (BTW, I once blogged a story involving Nicholas.)

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  7. Anonymous11:20 PM

    M-Y-E-R; one E; it's a four-letter word. You can say it, but then I have to wash your mouth out.

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