Thursday, September 11, 2008
7 Years Ago Today....
I guess people from this generation (and several others) will always remember where they were when they heard about the planes crashing into the World Trade Center towers.
I was teaching at a high school, and I've never really understood why the administrators there chose to handle the tragedy the way they did.
First they shut off our internet. Then they sent an administrator down each hallway to pull teachers out of their rooms and tell them privately and individually what had happened.
I was the last room on my hall, and the guy who was assigned to our hall wasn't actually an administrator. He was our resident computer guru/nerd, a grumpy sort with no people skills and very little personality.
When he told me what had happened, at first I thought he was talking about some kind of attack on our computer system, and I couldn't understand why he was interrupting my class to tell me this. When the words "World Trade Center" and "tower" and "crash" and "fallen" finally connected and sank in, I burst into tears. He didn't really know what to say, and he just stood there awkwardly.
I began to babble some incoherent mumbo-jumbo about my niece's husband being in the military and an M.P. and what this might mean for him, and he was just back from overseas and now he might have to leave again, and blah, blah, blah. Poor dude is still just standing there looking at me.
When I finally regained my composure, he said the administrators had asked that we return to our classrooms and resume teaching. (Hello?) We were not to discuss the tragedy with our students. One teacher was reportedly reprimanded for turning on a radio.
At the called faculty meeting that afternoon, our principal, who was FORMER MILITARY for Pete's sake, recounted the day's events as well as he knew them at that time. Remember, information was changing rapidly throughout that awful day. I don't remember much of what he said; I think I was in shock. Toward the end of the meeting, though, he made the comment that, "When you get home tonight, there's video all over the internet......if you want to watch that sort of thing." He looked disgusted.
How could you NOT watch it? Our lives changed in those moments, and he was derisive at the thought of someone watching the coverage of it on television? Perhaps he was reacting from pure shock also, but come on! I will say, though, that seeing bodies fall from the buildings was especially traumatic for me. I just couldn't stomach those images then, and I still can't stomach them now.
After school I had a hair appointment. It felt very weird sitting in a chair getting my hair cut when our nation had just been rocked by a horrific act of terrorism. But I didn't know what else to do. We went to hubby's regular Tuesday night bowling league that night, although I stayed glued to the television most of the night. I remember feeling at loose ends. It didn't feel right just to go on with life. But you couldn't just sit and do nothing.
Everyone wore red, white and blue ribbons pinned to their clothes for days. Some were rudimentary, some fancy. Then the ribbons began to fray and the shock wore off and pretty soon it was rare to see anyone wearing one. Something else to feel guilty about. You began to think you couldn't wear the ribbon forever, yet those people are forever dead. And our country is forever damaged.
Today we showed our students (who were mere children of 10 and 11 when the tragedy occurred) a presentation commemorating the attacks, with Alan Jackson's "Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning?" as background music. (Thank you, Lynn, for putting together such a touching tribute.) When it was over I couldn't discuss it with the students at all. I still get choked up even after 7 years.