UPDATE: I had no idea when I wrote the post below that the media would be present at the middle school where I work to document the "Messages of Hope" assembly. Go here to see a slide and audio show of this event, on our local newspaper's website. (I'm not in any of the photos.)
I haven't written for my AnceStories2 blog in two months. Today as I pondered the events that took place six years ago, I realized that they should be a topic for a journal prompt. Every American was affected on September 11th, and yet little of what we personally experienced will be recorded for posterity...unless we take the time to do so. On September 12th, 2001, I asked my children--Missy, then age 10, and Matt, then age 7--to write down something to help them remember how they were feeling that day. I knew that someday, their great-grandchildren would want to know. I wrote my thoughts and emotions, too.
We had just started the 2001 - 2002 school year a few days previously, and were starting to get into the swing of things. I was finishing getting ready for work, while my kids were in the living room, ready for school, waiting for me. They were watching PBS, and one of them called to me that a plane had hit a building somewhere. I walked into the living room to change the channel (my usual response when a news tragedy aired, to keep the kids from getting an eye- and earful), and then realized that whatever was happening was on every station...and it was horrible.
We saw how the towers were collapsing, and my son began to cry. He had no clue as to the terrible loss of life that had occurred; he only knew that a dream he had had was shattered. We had visited Chicago only a year earlier and he had been thrilled with our trip to the top of the Sears Tower. His next goal was to visit the World Trade Center in New York City. For a little boy who loved to make tall towers with Legos, that had been his ultimate dream. As I did my best to try to comfort him, I was angry with the evil behind all of this destruction that was even robbing my son, thousands of miles away.
When I heard that it was a suspected terrorist attack, and that not just New York City, but also Washington, D.C. was hit, as well as talk of the military being on alert, I called work, uncertain as to whether school would be canceled. Assured that for the time being, school would continue as normal, I decided I had better wake my husband before we left. He works nights and I didn't want him to wake up to an empty house and hear the news alone. I can still see the look of shock on his face as I told him...probably an expression that my mirrored my own.
In the emergency staff meeting before work, our principal (a veteran) did a wonderful job of allaying our fears by reminding us that our hometown of Spokane was very unlikely to be a target of terrorism, and that we needed to model for our students a calmness and "business as usual" attitude for their sake. We were also cautioned not to turn on our televisions while students were in the classrooms.
That morning, the two teachers that I worked with did an amazing job in front of 40 anxious and confused first- and second-graders, one of whom was my son, and another who was a disabled student that I assisted. I can remember with clarity as we stood as a classroom to recite the pledge of allegiance how each of us adults in the room were unable to finish aloud, so overcome were we by emotion.
When we returned home at the end of the day, I sat and watched the news in horrified awe until I could no longer stand it. The devastation did not fully hit me until the next morning. I woke up and turned on the TV, and realized it had not been a bad dream at all, but it was very, very real. It was then that I finally broke down in tears.
This morning, at the middle school where I now work, we will have an all-school assembly at the flagpole. A fire station company will be our honored guests, while a small group of leadership students will release helium balloons. Attached will be messages of hope written on 3x5 index cards by staff and students. We will have a moment of silence. And we will remember.
"Keeper of the Light" graphic originally created 2001 at http://prayerpraisepeace.homestead.com/light.html for free public use. This website has been disabled for several years.