Monday, September 11, 2006

where were you?

I was teaching class when a guidance counselor came in and handed me a small slip of paper. I don't remember exactly what it said. Something about not saying anything to the students about what was happening until there was more information. I had no idea what it was referring to. During the break between classes there was a buzz in the hallways. Some people were saying the WTC had blown up. I told my next class that we wouldn't talk about it until we really knew what had happened. I periodically tried to check and other websites for information, but it wasn't until lunchtime when I got to the teacher's lounge and saw a TV that I knew what had taken place.

Immediately I started to worry. The planes that had crashed had flown out of Logan airport, and this was a time when my father still traveled frequently for work. I had no idea what his travel plans were - whether he was home, or away, or on his way somewhere. Brian worked very close to the Pentagon. I found out afterwards that his whole building shook when the plane hit, and everyone grabbed their stuff and ran. Fortunately one of the guidance counselors gave me a code to call long-distance, and I was eventually able to get ahold of my mom and ensure that Dad was not on a plane. She said that Sarah had heard from Brian on IM and he was home.

Being so close to DC we had a number of students whose parents worked at the Pentagon which was one of the reasons that teachers were asked not to share information with students. They didn't want any students to start to panic. Parents started driving up and checking their kids out of school - all afternoon the classes shrank. Everyone was quieter than usual.

The worst part for me, I think was the next day. Lying on the couch at home, watching CNN show the same footage over and over and over again. But it wasn't that as much as watching the names of passengers on the airplanes scrolling across the screen. I would see three or four people all with the same last name, and just be devastated at the thought of a whole family traveling together - and now gone. The loss of life was staggering.

Sometimes I wish the memories would fade. That I could dull some of the sheer helplessness that I felt. But it's still fresh. Friday night at dinner the topic came up, and we all shared some of what had happened to each of us that day. All weekend, and much of today it has been mentioned over and over on TV. Even the halftime show for Monday Night Football brought tears to my eyes. Tonight I watched Claire and Ben splashing happily in the bathtub. How I wish for their innocence to last - for them not to ever have to feel the way I felt five years ago.

I have read a number of the memorials to victims of 9/11 written by bloggers for the 2,996 project. (It appears that the website is unable to handle today's traffic - I was able to view it earlier, hopefully it will come back so you can get an idea of what it was about.) I wish I had known about that when it was started so I could have also contributed. What a beautiful way to remember those who died.

We will never forget.

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