Sunday, September 11, 2011

Where were you when the world stopped turning?

I am a teacher.
Most of my life events are tied to being in a school building in one way or another.
Most memories involve those people that I worked with and became close friends with.

Ten years ago was no exception.
I was in my classroom teaching.
My janitor pops his head in my door and motions for me to come.
(He was an elderly gentleman and he liked to stop and share his latest joke from time to time.)
I walk to the door and he whispers, "Did you hear about the Twin Towers?"
Shaking my head, I respond, "No, what about them?"
"A plane hit one."


Now mind you... I thought he was telling a joke and all I knew was that I didn't catch the punchline, so I said, "What??  I don't get it."
So he repeated himself.
"You know... The Twin Towers... in New York (I nodded my head) ... a plane hit one." Then he added, "They're not exactly sure what happened... They think it was a hostage situation... It's all over the TV."


I remember my brain moving in slow motion... slowing processing what he was saying.

We had one TV that got stations and it was in the Art room across the hall. (the rest were just hooked to VCRs) Myself and the other 4th grade teacher walked our classes over to see the news footage unfolding this horrific event.  The other plane hitting.  People jumping. Looking back, that wasn't the best decision... but we really didn't know what we were going to be seeing.  Quickly though, we decided that this was too much for us to process, much less ten year olds... so we headed outside for recess. Military jets flew over us as we tried to keep the normalcy of our school day.

By now, we knew it was a terrorist attack. We knew it would change our lives... but we weren't sure how. There were reports that by the end of the day gas prices would be astronomical, so our principal came down and said she would let us all go a few at a time to go get gas. I sat in a bumper to bumper gas line a mile long. After filling up, I headed inside to pay.  I said to the cashier, "This is crazy!!" She replied, "The owner keeps calling and telling me to stop the pumps and raise the price.  I told him that there is no way... that I would have a riot on my hands.  This last time he called, I told him that if he wanted it done then he would have to come do it himself... but that this place will be completely sold out of gas before he can even get here." 

By the time I got back to school, parents began arriving to get their kids.  Questions started to arise as to why... they didn't understand the magnitude of what was occurring... none of us did.  But being their teacher, I tried to answer their questions.  That is the only time I have full fledged lost it crying in front of my class.  I explained that this was a scary time for us all... that I knew that my brother-in-law who was in the military would be called to duty... to a job that we didn't know who the enemy was yet... and to me that was the scariest thing of all.

As a 26 year old woman, I couldn't wrap my head around the hatred as the scenes kept repeating themselves over and over and over again on my television set. A hatred that would cause someone to cause to a whole nation to be in pain. Ten years later... I still don't understand that hatred.
But I do know... I will never forget that day...

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