9/11. I’ll never forget.
It was my senior year, and as usual I was sitting in my first block Accounting class, drinking a Dr. Pepper and eating white powdered donuts from the vending machine down the hall –Probably wondering what we’d be doing for my Dad’s birthday that evening. As usual, the 4th chair at our table was empty -- that kid was always late! Mrs. Hankins had told him if he was late again, he was getting ISS (In School Suspension), no questions asked. As usual, about 4 minutes into class, just after Mrs. H took roll, he came running in the classroom door. He didn’t throw his backpack on the floor and slunk into his chair half asleep as usual though. Instead, he ran past Mrs. H - straight over to the TV mounted on the wall in the corner and turned it on, looking for the remote to change the channel. Mrs. H and the rest of our class were kind of just staring at him, thinking he had lost his mind.
Mrs. H finally found her voice and told him to “go straight to the office,” that she “would send a note and…” He interrupted her as he had found the remote and said “Just hang on a second, you have to see this! –There, LOOK!” We all looked at the TV, and saw a burning tower. Dark black smoke was billowing out of the windows. Mrs. H was walking to turn off the TV when the second plane hit. There was a cry that echoed across the room, then silence – we were stunned. Mrs. Hankins walked across the hall and turned the TV on in the next classroom, and slowly, down the hall, the rest of the students glued their eyes to the news. “That kid” did not get sent to the office that day. He did not get ISS that day. We did not learn anything about Accounting that day (or any other school subject for that matter). We talked in the hallways… Was it a terrorist attack? What about the people?! They needed to hurry and evacuate! Can you imagine the crowded stairways?! Then… the unthinkable happened. The first tower fell. Most of the girls and even some of the guys were crying by then. It was all just so surreal. Surely we’d wake up and realize it was just an awful nightmare… We also heard about a plane going down in a field, and another flying into the pentagon. There was no way this was a coincidence! This nightmare is REAL. Will we declare war? Who do we declare war on? Where is the President? Kids were already being pulled out of classes by their parents. Going home to process the news as a family…
I had a half days at school that year, as I was in the co-op work program. This meant I could leave school just before lunch every day and go to work at the daycare at our church school. I worked with the 3 and 4 year olds in the extended care program – lunch, nap, and afternoon playtime. I had my sister’s car that day, so I drove straight to work. When I got there, I could tell all the teachers knew what was going on, by their red-rimmed eyes and long faces… but the kids… oh the innocence! They didn’t understand why their teachers were sad that day. They didn’t know that people all over the world had lost loved ones that day. Many parents came early to get their kiddos that day. While the kids were napping, we had the radio on very low at the teacher’s desk – our only source of information that day. We couldn’t very well let 3 and 4 year olds watch people trying to escape the flames by jumping out of windows. The images were disturbing and devastating enough for grownups.
Our country came together on that day. We prayed for each other, supported each other, encouraged each other. I remember seeing the American flag EVERYWHERE for months afterward. Heroes were made that day. Whether they wanted the job or not. What can we do for the people that died that day? Aside from vengeance?
NEVER FORGET. Remember them. Pray for their families. Honor them the best way we know how. Talk about it with your kids (when they are an appropriate age of course) – Just as we “Remember the Alamo!” and remember Pearl Harbor… now we also Remember 9/11.