I was in my third grade classroom getting ready to meet with one of the reading groups when I got a call on my cellphone from my sister. She told me a plane had flown into one of the World Trade Center towers. I quickly went to the cupboard to pull out the black and white television I stored to watch special events. I plugged it in near my desk and told the class what had happened. I had 23 students at the time and they crowded around my desk to see what was going on. I called the school office to tell them and they turned on one of the school TVs. I also told the other teachers in my building.
I was flipping around the channels but ended up on ABC. Some students hung around and others went back to completing their work. I am a flexible teacher and I know that this event was much more important than any work I had assigned.
I called my sister and found out that there was concern about my niece, Sarah, who was a congressional intern at the time. No one had heard from her yet and there was fear that a plane might be heading for Washington DC.
We were watching when the first building collapsed. It was so hard to believe. Students asked many questions but there was no panic. We stopped and prayed. Thankfully, we did not see anyone jumping from windows. You knew the second building was coming down and it all seemed so surreal.
My students left for lunch and I talked with other faculty members, most of which hadn’t seen any footage, so we gathered around the TV in the office watching.
After an hour or two we heard from my niece. At first, they were told to stay inside but then everything was evacuated. She said it was wild with so many people rushing to get out of DC. She couldn’t get cell service and headed for the Metro. Of course, being underground she still couldn’t get service. We all breathed a sigh of relief when she called and said she was back in her apartment in outside DC.
My other sister and her family were in Disney World with some close friends and it was important to get in touch. There was that sense, that day that you needed to hear the voice of all your loved ones. They were fine but as air travel was shut down they knew they couldn’t fly back home. They also wanted to leave and just be home so they rented a van and drove back to MD.
When my students came back to the room, after lunch and recess, Will commented when he saw the TV was still covering the event, “Is that still on?”
Nick, wise beyond his years, turned and said to him, “Will, this is history we’re going to be hearing about this for a long time.” I reached over and ruffled his hair, thinking how true that was.
That class graduated from high school this year and I went back to South Carolina for the graduation. Only four students from my original class were there and I had a picture taken of me with them. I knew I had to go back for this graduation as they were My 9/11 Class. We talked about that day and I reminded Nick of what he said.
Yes, we are going to be hearing about this for a long time. My mom talks about the effect the bombing of Pearl Harbor had on her. She and her friend sat on her marble steps in Baltimore City crying that their fathers were going to have to go to war. Her generation has not forgotten and may we not forget.