Saturday, September 09, 2006

Remembering September 11, 2001

I was about halfway through my pregnancy with Lydia. I was teaching eighth grade history at a rural middle school. It was early in the school year and we were still getting settled in.

I don't remember what we were actually studying, maybe Civil War. While teaching you are in your own little world. I had no clue what was going on in the world outside my classroom, until lunch.

The eighth grade team had one of the early lunch periods. We all ate together. One of the teachers pulled me aside and said that we were all meeting in the library. The library? That is odd. I went about my normal, which at that time included a trip to the restroom and grabbing my lunch from the fridge.

Entering the library I see the team glued to the TV. Whats up? Then I saw replay after replay of the plane, the fires, the collapse, the pentagon, and a possibly related crash in Pennsylvania. How did the world fall apart during my morning classes?

Stunned and shocked, I don't think any of us really talked. Initially we asked the librarian (who was able to watch most of the morning) if anyone knew what had happened. Of course no one did and after that there wasn't much to do or say.

Our lunch period was short and students would be back in a few minutes. How do we handle this? What should we say? My initial reaction was this is history happening. Let's tell them, let's watch the news, let's talk about it. The rest of the team was older and wiser and suggested that we say nothing unless they brought it up. That their parents should be the first to discuss this with them. That is what we did.

The rest of the afternoon was spent trying to go through the "normal" while sneaking to the library for a quick update and trying to process the events that occurred. None of the students ever seemed to know that something terrible had happened.

The next days and weeks were spent talking about it. We mourned and reacted with the rest of the country. I laminated the newspapers. (Wishing now I had saved them but I left them at the school when I quit) We talked about the latest findings. We watched news reports. Occasionaly, we studied what was on my lesson plans.

We did a special project. They were supposed to make a poster to tribute what America is. I wanted to emphasize the good. (Looking back now I see this was probably part of the swell of patriotism that occurred. ) I wanted to move the focus from the images burned in our brains of the towers on fire and falling, of the people running, covered in soot and debris of the rubble and those missing. I emphasized over and over again that it was not to be about 9/11, but apparently the students couldn't let those images go. About 1/4 of the posters had the towers as the central image.

It is amazing to me, five years later, how fresh some of those memories are, yet some things are blurry I wish I would have been blogging then. I wish I would have written it all down.

Shannon has shared her memories and is giving us the opportunity to share with her and her readers also. In reading others memories, I was surprised at how quickly the emotions from that day rose to the surface. It is a deep wound that is still healing.

If you would like to share your memories or read the memories of others please do so here.


  1. How crazy to have had to be so isolated for the entire school day. It's so amazing thinking back how on this day we can all remember SO many details of what we were doing.

  2. What a hard thing it would have been to try to live as if nothing was happening that day! Especially while pregnant. I would have been openly weepy. I'm glad you were able to discuss it with your students in the days that followed. So many kids don't discuss important stuff with their parents.

    I remember when the shuttle exploded I was in choir. The principal decided to announce what had happened by playing the current radio broadcasting over the intercom. They weren't talking about "what" had happened, just how terrible it was. We all thought that nuclear war had started or the President had been assasinated, until the prinicipal finally broke in and explained what was going on. That is definitely NOT how to tell students.