Tuesday, September 6, 2011

I remember where I was 9/11

It was a gorgeous day and I sat on the steps of Cynwyd Elementary with my class of 18 second graders, all smiling for a class photo. At that moment the plane hit, I didn't know it at that time. I have a picture of our last seconds of life before 9/11 meant anything more that just a day in September. It was not long after that my friend and our guidance counselor came into the classroom to let me know a plane crashed into the World Trade Center. I quickly looked on the computer, saw some pictures and speculation and went back to teaching. At some point in the morning, we were told not to say anything and something about terrorists. By lunch I arrived to a teacher's lounge with a TV on and teachers sitting somberly. AT that point the tower had collapsed, the Pentagon was on fire, and there was a plane crash in PA. I spent my forty five minute lunch soaking it in, trying to comprehend what had happened in just a few short hours. I felt so detached. While the rest of the world was busy watching the events unfold, I had been reading books and singing songs. The day finished and I gave a speech to the kids about if for any reason they could not do their homework (which I had been instructed to give so it felt normal) that it was fine.

I went home, alone to my apartment that afternoon and had never felt so unsafe in my life.
That night I barely slept thinking about the families, watching newscasts, listening for planes overhead. In the following days, I had to answer questions from 7 year olds about terrorism and safety and things as a 25 year old I had no clue about. We drew pictures for the firefighters. Pictures of people jumping out of buildings, people on fire, people with parachutes landing on the ground of which most had to be thrown away. It was traumatic for all of us.

I remember at night wishing I was somewhere other than one mile away from one of the largest malls in the country. Miles away from Philadelphia. I wanted to be somewhere the terrorists didn't care about, somewhere safe. Did it exist, would it ever?

Now 10 years later, I feel safe again but know that at any time that can be taken away. I spent much of last night up after watching a show about the children of 9/11. Feeling helpless, I prayed for the families hoping that in time there is some peace in their hearts.
We will never forget.

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