Sunday, September 11, 2011
Ten Years After
It's been 10 years since our nation was attacked. Everyone asks, "Do you remember where you were when you heard the news?" I do. I was at work in room 225. I wasn't teaching. I was working on paperwork in the office. One of the women, Marie, just got off the phone from her son who was near the World Trade Center. She said he saw a plane hit the building. I looked at her and said, "No way! He's playing an April Fool's joke on you!" I don't know why I said that. I had to look at the calendar to make sure what day it was because that news was so unbelievable. Up in the library, the librarians set up a TV in one of the back rooms. I made it up there after teaching a resource room class. I couldn't believe what I saw. It was so unreal. Staff members were sitting around the screen crying. I had to leave to go back to teach. At this point, the principal made an announcement about what was going on. I entered my classroom and right away one of my girls told me that her mother worked in Manhattan. I asked where and she said she didn't know. (This wasn't unusual that the kids didn't know where the parents worked especially if it was a new job). I allowed her to call a relative. The next thing I heard was the principal start to announce names of children to come down to the office. I later found out that parents starting to swarm into the building to pick up their children. When I had a free period, I went down to the lobby and saw mostly mothers begging for their children to be released from class. I can still see these women crying and yelling at the security guards.
My friend Ellen called me to tell me that she was picking up Alexandra and my Elijah from daycare. Our older ones, Ben and Matthew were being dismissed early from their schools. I wasn't allowed to leave until my day was over which was around 2:15.
When I left the school, the first thing I noticed was the silence. There weren't any planes in the sky except from the military and that was weird. It jolted me to the realization that this was event was really bad. Manhattan was closed off so as I traveled north on my parkways, I noticed that the only traffic going south were military vehicles. There weren't any civilian cars. I remember my heart racing seeing this. I knew our lives were changing forever.
We all made it home safe and sound. Ben understood the magnitude of what had happened. Elijah knew that some buildings fell down and that a lot of people were hurt and killed. Neal and I understood that as long as we are together, we are safe. How can we explain to our children that there are people in the world who hate what our country represents?
The next day I went to work and out of the window of my 4th floor classroom, there were the thick, black plumes of smoke from the World Trade Center. Only one student showed up for the class and we looked out the window and talked about what had happened. My asshole of a principal walked by and yelled at me to get away from that window. I just looked at him and refused. (My school is in the North Bronx and we were far away from the tip of Manhattan). I'll never forget that moment because of how angry this so-called educator made me feel.
Ten years later...I still work in the same building. Elijah totally understands what has happened. Ben has become more worldly and has a hard time realizing that people can hate you for what you represent, not for who you are. We just watched the memorial service of the names being read and I shed quite a few tears which surprised me. I thought I was over it. I now realize that I'll never be over it and it's okay to grieve for the lives lost that day. I hope the families know that we share their loss and even though we are strangers, we are united as humans.