Way out here in Seattle, where thinking about the distance of 3,000 miles away from NYC is a grim, coincidental reminder to me of the lives lost that day, I woke up and flipped to MSNBC. They were replaying 9/11/01 coverage to the minute, from NBC. I was shocked and appalled, and had a hard time turning away. It was 6 AM Seattle time, 9/11/01, all over again. I dragged myself to school, having a hard time shaking off the memories. I had a big day ahead of me.
Today was the fourth day of school for my third graders. They were three years old on 9/11/01. I had spent a fair bit of time thinking about how to handle the fifth anniversary in the classroom. Doug Noon posted a very helpful and powerful piece, Teaching for Change on Sept. 11. I left a comment there with several others, mostly about that day in the classroom. So I was ready, decided I would let the kids bring it up, and if they didn't, I would.
With five minutes left in the day, I brought it up. Asked if they knew what was special about today, that "special" did not always mean happy and joyous, etc. Maybe five kids had anything to say. They were clearly waiting to hear from me, I could feel their eyes and ears tuning in. So I talked about being a teacher on that day, how I had a new class, like they are now. How everyone was scared that day - kids and grown-ups. How what happened made people feel so very sad - and angry. And I said more than once that they should ask their parents about it when they went home, that they should try and sit down with family and talk about it, that they should talk with their older siblings, ask them about it. It was a moment, with these young kids who barely know me, to tell them I was a regular person, that they have a place in my world, and that they will have a place in mine. All this took five minutes.
And then I raced home on my bicycle to drive my wife to the airport. To put her on a plane bound for London, then on to Vienna, and finally to Bratislava - to make a recording for Naxos.
Everything else that happened today paled in comparison to saying goodbye to her at the airport. The flight was delayed. Our hearts beat faster for a while. She is in the air as I write this.
It is just another day, after all... but it will never be the same, ever.
We may all be feeling a bit unsteady today, wondering about the meaning of it all.
This was the first year that I met kids who almost didn't know enough to care. The world they live in is different from what it was, and they have no point of reference to understand that.
My own middle-schoolers came home from school and said that the subject didn't come up today. I think they felt cheated a bit. I'm glad I haven't had the TV on yet. It's been emotional enough - lots to think about.
Personal testimonies such as yours reassure me that I'm not alone with my thoughts. It's strange. The topic was all over the media, and yet nobody brought it up in conversation. I'm not as concerned with the horrific tragedy - which I can not understand - as with the affect that it's had on all of us, which I think we might understand if we talk about it. Mark, thank you for writing this.
I feel really bad for you. September 11th was a hard day for everyone. On every aniversary, we practically relive it like its happening all over again. I was drawn to your blog because September 11th is a sad day and your a teacher who has a new class, new students, people you dont know, and you have to talk to them about this hard subject. I want to be an elementary teacher as well. Im still in college right now but September 11th will always be with us.
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