Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Where were you...

This post was inspired by the anniversary of 9.11 and my friend Anita's post.

I remember 9.11.01 like it was last week. The irony of that is that I have a horrible memory, but the events of 9.11 are burned into my mind, as it is in millions of other Americans.

The Designer and I had been living in Denver for about 3 years by this time. I had been working as a project manager for a large insurance company and just days before the attacks, I started my new career as a high school business teacher. Sept. 11 was officially my 7th day teaching...EVER!

Since Denver is 2 hours behind the East Coast, I was just arriving at the school when word was spreading that a plane had hit the first tower. The word on the news in the beginning was that it was an accident, but of course, there was some speculation.

I left the business office not really knowing what was happening and to be honest, thinking that although it was tragic, accidents happened. In my mind, it wasn't anything big...yet.

My students began filing in to their first hour class. Many of them buzzing about what they were hearing on the radio as they drove in to school. I taught in a computer lab, so many of them were wanting to use to computer to access more information. By this time it had become apparent that something was really wrong, but still, no one had a clue as to how wrong it really was. I allowed the students to use the computer to log onto CNN.com. The thing is, none of us could get on. CNN.com was jammed from the number of people trying to access it. When we realized that several other major news sites were also jammed, we began (as a class) to realize that something big was in the works.

Part way through the class period, the school principal came across the intercom to give a brief announcement of the happenings in New York (and later other locations). We turned our classroom tv on and watched in horror as we watched the first tower crumble right there in front of our eyes. The nerds, the cheerleaders, the jocks, the gothics, the shy kids, the loud kids, the well-behaved kids, the obnoxious kids...we all sat there together, watching in horror. Tears in all of our eyes.

Some students used their cell phones to call their parents. Others had no parents available to call and sat there asking me to explain to them what was happening. I had to be honest and tell them that I truly had no idea and that although I could not promise it was over, I could promise to do everything I my power to personally protect them. They were scared! I was scared!

Finally, class was over. I did not have a 2nd period, so I hurried into the business office again and called The Designer. He worked right downtown Denver in a sky rise and the first thing that came to mind was if it happened there, could it be happening here next? He answered and we spoke. I urged him to leave the building, but he refused. He said he was fine and there was nothing to be concerned about. Honestly, he just hadn't been following the news closely enough to realize the significance of what was happening and basically he down-played it. I tried to explain, but he believes me to be a little dramatic and he doesn't get "riled" up about anything. He stayed for the remainder of the work day.

Next I needed to call the 2nd most important person to me...my mom. She (along with the rest of my family) was 1200 miles away in Michigan. I reached her and she began to cry when she heard my voice. She wished I was home (in Michigan) and worried that since we were in a larger city, we could be more at risk than she was for an attack as well. She told that she had all of her employees pulled into a conference room and they were watching the news together. She was scared. They were scared. She asked how I was handling my students and how they were doing.

Throughout the day, classes continued. Some students had gone home, but many were still there. I taught in the inner city schools, so many of the students had no one to go home to, so being in school is where they felt the safest. As word spread that Bush planned to retaliate, fear spread even more as students worried that WW III could be literally days away. "Mrs. S__, what if we go to war and they attack us again?" and "Mrs. S___, will we survive or is this the end as we know it?" Of course, those questions seem so extreme now, but at the time, they were very valid. I tried to answer as honestly as possible without growing fear in their minds and hearts. I reassured them the best that I knew how.

Since I was teaching in the public school systems, I was obviously told and trained that I could not teach about God (especially since I taught business courses). However, that day and the days to follow, I did a lot of teaching about God. For some students, that was the first they had heard of Him. For others, it was reassuring to them that I believed in the same God they believed in.

I grieved for the men and women who lost their lives that day. I grieved for the families of those brave individuals. I prayed for the families of the terrorists even. Some of this I did publicly in front of the students and much of it was done at home, with The Designer the only one in attendance.

I wasn't sure if I would reprimanded for speaking of God to so many students that day and the weeks that followed. As it turned out, I wasn't. But, if I had it to do all over again, I wouldn't change anything.

So, where were you?

8 comments:

L L (skyangel) said...

I was on a layover in NYC, midtown Manhattan. I woke up to the image of the North Tower on fire and then the news of the first airplane crashing into it. As I watched the 2nd airplane flew into the other building. On that day I felt pure evil invade into my life. It is kind of hard to explain, but it seemed as if the entire universe had just been turned upside down. I was on the floor in the hotel room rocking back and forth. When I heard one of the airplanes was AA I knew I had to start calling family/friends. Soome of my crew members were Christians and there was a Baptist Church not too far from the hotel. We went there a few times in the 6 days that we were stuck in NY to pray and speak with the pastor. F15 jets were flying overhead and I thought "Is this America?" The most surreal experience I have ever been through.

I am so glad that you brought God into your classroom. He needed to be there.

BlessedWithDaughters said...

I was at work...I worked at the time as an investigator and compliance analyst for the State. Someone came running through the halls spreading the news...there happened to be a TV on in the conference room that day, which was a VERY unusual occurrence, and we crowded in there to see the stunning footage. I just remembered that the normal "hum" of the office had dissipated into an ominous and stunned silence. Even those who were crying did so silently. Those who prayed, sat with hands folded, lips barely moving.

The city was overwhelmed...I worked in the heart of the state capital, where the governer's office is and where the state legislature meets. I remember that although everyone was urging calm and caution, most of us decided to get out of "Dodge" immediately. I called Rob, and he said he was coming to get me (we rode together in those days), but he couldn't get to where I was because of all the traffic--both automobile and foot-traffic. I took off my heels and jogged, barefoot, for nearly a mile out of the downtown area to the closest place he could get to. No one was really panicking that I could see, but everyone just wanted out of the area, because no one knew if, where or when another attack would happen...many were concerned that state capitals might be logical targets.

My friend and I were talking about the attacks today. We were marvelling that our kids weren't yet born at the time. GirlyGirl was born 2 months later. It made me wonder what her b-mom was thinking, nearly 7 months pregnant at the time, and the world looking like it was coming apart at the seams.

Emily said...

I was a sophomore student at the University of Iowa. I was a resident assistant in Currier/Stanley, and had just gone down to Burge to have some breakfast. I sat down with a friend, and she said to me, “Terrorists just bombed the World Trade Center.” I was so naive, sheltered ... I had no idea what a terrorist was, or even what the World Trade Center was. I gave her a blank look. I could tell by the look on her face that that wasn't the reaction she'd expected.

After breakfast I went back up to my hall. Normally quiet, doors shut, sleeping girls quietly heading to the bathroom in their robes or going to class with backpacks on, the floor was alive with motion like it was when “Survivor” or “The Bachelor” was on. All the doors were open — you could hear the television sets echoing each other from across the halls. Groups of girls were gathered in front of their sets together. I went into my room and flipped on my garage sale TV set. I watched the second plane hit and I watched in horror as both towers crumbled to the ground. I remember I was in shock.

My boyfriend (now husband) was in the Army National Guard at the time. After the towers fell he called me and plainly said “We're going to war.” I remember going to class that day — my notes were a blur in my social psychology class — the teacher continued on with the regular lecture. I couldn't understand how she could do that like nothing had happened when I was waiting for the sky to turn black and fall down upon us. Later in the day, I went to my boyfriend's apartment. We spent the day huddled together on the couch with tear-stained faces, jumping every time the telephone rang, in fear that he was being “called up.”

That evening we attended a vigil on the Pentecrest. Most people were somber, but there were a few in the crowd yelling obscenities about the administration, about war, etc. Later, my boyfriend was alerted that he needed to have his uniform with him at all times and was not to go any farther than three hours away, so that he could return to the Armory in case they would need to leave quickly. My mom called and left me a tearful message on my answering machine that day, and it took me three years to get to the point where I could erase that message from my machine. In October 2001, my boyfriend was called up to guard the Mt. Joy airport/Chinook helicopters until February 2002. We were engaged at Christmas 2001, and talked daily about what our marriage plans would be if he were to be called up quickly. Then in February 2004, he got orders to go to Afghanistan for 16 months and we moved our September wedding up to February and had one week to get all the details done. He spent the first 16 months of our marriage overseas.

9/11 changed everything. It changed me from a child to an adult. It broke down my safe little walls, and showed me how ugly people in the world can be. However, it also showed me how we can come together as communities, and a nation, and made me very proud to be an American.

Anita said...

I was living in Anchorage, AK at the time. We are 4 hours behind NYC there, so I was just waking and preping for work when my boss called me to turn on the TV. I remember saying "who's bin laden?" I did go to work that morning, but after just a few minutes there my boss decided to close the office for the day and I went home. I stopped and filled up my truck with gas, just in case there was a shortage. I also remember thinking how "quiet" the skies were. No airplanes in that air just never happens in Anchorage. 50+% of the residents own planes. I went home and stayed there watching the tv for the rest of the day. The days after were a blur... Anchorage had a memorial a couple days later that I went to. And immediately I started worrying about all my military friends, some who have done a few tours in Iraq since then... God Bless America!

nush said...

I was newly married and attending nursing school. I was sitting in class that morning, when one of our professors barged into our classroom crying and asking if we had heard the news. No one had a clue what had happened. We all ran upstairs to the lounge and everyone was huddled around the TV crying, hands covering their mouths. Class was canceled the rest of the day and the next few days after. I went home and immediately called nick. There were messages from my mom and other family members on our machine. I called them all back just to connect. It seemed as though everyone needed reassurance and support that day.I felt shocked, not knowing what to expect next. What was hapening? My heart broke for all the families who lost loved ones in the towers, or who had no idea where their loved ones were. My heart broke for those on the planes who had no idea when they stepped onto the plane that morning their lives would be over, or that they would never see their loved ones again. My heart still breaks.Nick had just been discharged from the marines two years prior to 911. I am so thankful for the willing soldiers who have put their lives on the line to protect us all.

Anonymous said...

I was working at an ambulance company here in MN. I will never forget when my coworker (we listened to the same radio station) looked at me and said 'Did you just hear that?' Shocked we were glued to our radios. Then the other plane hit. Our office was going nuts.

We had around 10 paramedics and half of the billing office in this small room watching TV as we saw the 1st building fall.

The next day we had a 'party' (which was already scheduled before the attacks) to celebrate our previous month. Instead my manager was crying and we all prayed for everyone.

Jeff and I live around 30 miles or so from the power plant and for months after the attack we had fighter jets flying over our house keeping watch on the skies. It was so surreal seeing them flying in the sky that was normally quiet every night.

Natryn said...

I was at home in Oregon, ummm sleeping (we are 3 hours behind NY). My husband called me to tell me the WTC had been hit by a plane. He sounded scared, he had been trying to get ahold of his father, who was on a plane that day and he was not sure what his destinations was. He could not get ahold of him and started to panic. He left work a wreck, and came home sobbing. We sat there watching the TV the rest of the day. A few hours of sitting there his sister called to say dad had finally returned their call, apparently he'd slept through the events in a hotel room (in denver I think) and that his scheduled flight had been canceled already. It was stressful waiting for about a week before he could come home..
I remember having to pick up some groceries the next day, and everything in the air was calm, a scary calm though, surreal almost.. I remember already seeing USA Flags and things for sale (THAT quickly!)
I was glued to the TV for the next week or so, following everything as close as I could...
This was about a month before we found out we were infirtle, the rest of that year was full of many depressing days. (and much of the year to follow)

Anonymous said...

At the time I worked as a daycare teacher with 1 year olds. I was just getting them sat down for breakfast when a parent brought her child in and told us the news. I couldn't wait to get my morning break so I could go to the staff lounge and see the coverage on tv. I had lived in New York and worried about those I know there. It was my short day at work so I got to leave about 11:30am. I went straight home to watch endless coverage. I pulled out my photo albums of my time in NYC including pictures of me at the top of the World Trade Center. I had a ex-boyfriend in New York that had plans to become a fireman. I worried that he had died in the tragedy and spent the next week watching as the names of victims were released. He was not amoung them. At the time we were finishing our adoption homestudy and I wondered if we would have a world to raise a child in. So many memories from that time are with me every day. I long to be back in New York.

Michelle