Being a teacher on 9/11

Very few classrooms had televisions in 2001. We all crowded into those that did, students and teachers mixing together. Bells were ignored: though we didn’t know exactly what was happening, there was nothing else to focus on except the tragedy unfolding before us.

Though we had learned from the Oklahoma City bombing not to jump to conclusions about who was behind this, foreign terrorists were an obvious possibility. That’s when these moments really hit me. If that was the source, then we were about to go to war. There would be no alternative, just by using history as a guide.

This is where it went from surreal and horrifying to real and frightening. Looking around the room, it hit me that some of my students would be in uniforms in a far away land. That however many deaths would happen on 9/11 would not end with that day. That the sounds of the towers falling would echo into the future, and that this tragedy was just beginning.

I had to step out of the room. Feeling faint, I leaned my forehead against the cool wall and breathed until I could face those terrible images again, and what it meant for the future of all of us, but especially my students.

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