Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11...10 Years but will NEVER forget

On 9/11/01, I was just 1 week into teaching my first year of second grade in Northern Virginia.  Being from Long Island, I was still learning the lay of the land and getting to know the people down here.

I was in computer lab with my students when the librarian told me to come over and check something out.  I saw the trade center with smoke billowing out.  I immediately thought, "Oh great another terrorist bombing.  Will they ever stop?"  I had no idea at the time that it was a plane that had created the smoke. 

I went back to my class to finish up the lab and back to teaching the rest of the morning.

It was finally lunch time so I dropped my kids off and headed to the lounge.  I took a shortcut by my principal's office and it was then that I saw the raw emotion of what was about to unfold in front of me.  In my principal's office, I found an extremely strong woman, my principal, brought to her knees sobbing. 

I didn't want to stare so I headed on to the lounge.  The TV was on and everyone was standing around.  It was then that they replayed everything that I had missed since seeing the smoke earlier that morning. 
I was numb. 
I had no words. 
I immediately sat down as I watched it happen over and over again.

The room was silent.  A thing that did not happen often in that lounge.

It took me all day to allow everything sink in...
- Planes crashed into the twin towers and then collapsed.  They were gone, forever.
The same towers where my dad worked for AT&T years prior and I visited many times with him. 
The same towers that were my welcome home sign when coming back from college. 
The same towers that on a clear day, I could see from my home on Long Island.

- All of those people lost inside and on the planes.

- The reason my principal was brought to her knees? It was because her 26 year old son was in those towers. (He had just started a new job there.)

- The Pentagon was also attacked.  Parents trickled in(many who worked there) to take their children out.

- My sister and father were supposed to meet near the trade center that day.  It took me forever to find out that they had called it off before any of this had happened.

- My mom, a nurse on LI, was on rainbow alert at her hospital waiting to be called into the city if need be.

- There was a fourth plane that had crashed in PA, which was said to have been heading to the Capitol Building or White House.

After gathering this information, it took me the rest of the day to allow my emotions to catch up.
It also took me all evening to get through to my sister who lived in the city and my family out on Long Island.  Thankfully everyone was ok. 

We ended up having the day off the next day, and were on a modified lockdown with indoor recess for the upcoming weeks.

When we were back in school, it was extremely difficult to keep a happy face in front of all of the young children.  Some knew what had happened and some did not.  The children had questions and many of us didn't have answers for them. 

It had been an emotional few days but what truly brought me to tears was when the children said the pledge for the first time since we had been back.  I was never more proud to be an American than at that moment.

Our assistant principal took over as acting principal as our principal tried to come to grips with the fact that they had no word on whether her son was alive or not.  She later found out that he had perished and a piece of her had died that day.

As the months wore on, the list of casualties grew longer, including a distant family member and a number of people from my hometown.

Now, here we are 10 years later, and I still can remember the events as clearly as if it happened yesterday.  The emotions, though pushed away at times, come flooding back when watching any special on 9/11.

9/11 symbolizes so many things and I promised myself 10 years ago that I would NEVER forget what they are.  I still have not forgotten....

To those innocent victims involved in the attacks as well as their family and friends affected forever.
To those heroes that stepped up that day as well as the weeks and months following.
I will never forget you and am eternally grateful.

Forever in our hearts....

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