Thursday, September 11, 2014

Where Were You "When the World Stopped Turning?"

It's hard to believe that it has been 13 years since September 11, 2001.  It's one of those days that many generations will never forget.  My parents still remember watching Neil Armstrong land on the moon and they remember where they were when the news came that President Kennedy had been assassinated.  I will always remember where I was when I heard the news about the Challenger Space Shuttle and I will never forget September 11, 2001.

My first graders were just beginning to arrive on that beautiful sunny morning.  It was my 4th year of teaching.  I was teaching first grade at Groveton Elementary School in Alexandria, Virginia.  I had Good Morning America on in the background that morning as I was getting ready for the day.  I remember just hearing that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center as my students were arriving and I went to turn the tv off.  At that point the consensus was that it was an accident.  It was a few minutes before 9am.  I started my day with my students as normal.  My students were working at their desks or at stations when through email and word of mouth I heard that two planes had hit the World Trade Center and it wasn't an accident.  It was a terrorist attack.  I was stunned but this was in New York.  I knew it was important that I keep going about my day as normal as possible and I could process this news with my teammates at lunch.  Then we heard that a plane crashed into the Pentagon.  This was only a few miles up the road from us.  Many of our kids had family members who worked at the Pentagon.  Several staff members had family members, husbands, and friends working at the Pentagon.  Things changed dramatically.  Parents started arriving, frantic, to pick up their kids.  Secretaries and Instructional Assistants were the runners picking up kids from our rooms.  Many staff members were trying to contact their loved ones at the Pentagon to no avail.  All my friends and family were emailing to make sure I was safe.  We kept the kids inside for the rest of the day.  I started the day with 16 kids.  By the end of the day I only had 7 left.  School was cancelled the next day.   
When the buses arrived to take the few children left home we heard more.  Parents and bus drivers said they felt the ground shake when the plane hit the Pentagon.  I guess that was one good thing about the commotion of learning in a classroom.  Thankfully we did not hear it or feel it.  Bus drivers and parents who were in the military or had spouses in the military were sharing that they had been told to be ready to go.
I was dating a soldier in the Army at the time.  He was in a non-deployable unit.  I didn't hear from him for 4 days and when I did he told me there was a chance that he and a couple other soldiers from his unit would be deployed.
Thankfully all our students' parents were fine and our staff members were able to make contact with their loved ones.  We were lucky.  There were many who were not.
 Where were you on September 11?  Stop by and share your story.  For it's by sharing our memories and experiences that we will truly never forget.  

There were many songs written about that day.  This is probably my favorite.  "Where were you when the world stopped turning on that September day?  Teaching a class full of innocent children..."  I leave you with Alan Jackson performing this song at the Grand Ole Opry.


1 comment

  1. Oh my gosh your story gave me chills. I didn't realize you were so close to the action that day. Wow!! I was in college - getting ready for class and then driving to campus listening on the radio. Crazy how vivid that day still is, 13 years later. I had to laugh when I saw your comments about Kennedy. I said almost the exact same thing to a friend who's bday is Sept 11. We were remembering back to that day in college and talking about how crazy it is that kids don't even know about it now - even the middle schoolers at his school weren't born then or were young babies. We agreed we were old and that was our generation's 'where were you moment' our parents had with Kennedy and our grandparents had with Pearl Harbor, etc. Sad memories. Praying for peace!


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