Sunday, September 11, 2016

15 Years Later

It seems to be the question that so many ask around this time of year, "Where you when 9/11 happened?" This question often brings on a full range of emotions, from sadness to rage and everything in between.

Where was I that day? When the first tower was hit was in my 1st Hour 7th Grade Girls Choir class at Ramsey Junior High, but I didn't find out about the attack until I got to my 2nd Hour Lifeskills class. I was sitting in my English class with our eyes glued to the TV when we heard about the Pentagon and the plane that crashed in a field in and then as the towers fell. I will never be able to get the image of that bright blue sky with those dark black clouds out of my mind. I hold that memory forever.

When I think about that day and the days that followed, I didn't understand. I didn't understand the world that we were living in and what was to come. I have always had some level of positivity in my life, I have always had unicorns and rainbows surrounding me. If you think that I'm too unicorny now, you never met seventh grade Meghan. However after that day, and really after those moments that morning, I had no unicorns or rainbows. I was twelve years old and just days away from beginning a teenager. I had no clue how the world was about to change. Sometimes when I think about that day, I find myself feeling the same feelings that I had as a young teenager.

I was the same age as my students are now when 9/11 happen. My students are post 9/11 babies; they have no clue what the world was like before. They don't know about the world where people could walk with their family members and friends to the gate of an airport and meet them at the gate. They don't know the world without terrorism being at the forefront of everyone's minds. They don't know the world without war.

Educators today face many uphill battles, but I truly believe one of the hardest battles is to getting students to understand what that day truly meant to us all. I believe this is true of any historical moment. I have heard stories and seen those telling their stories about where they were and what they were doing when they found out about the assassination of JFK or the explosion of the Challenger, but I couldn't identify with it, not because I didn't understand the significance but simply because I had no first-hand experience with the tragedy. Our students understand what happened, but they can't connect to it. It is our job to help them connect. It is our job to tell our story. It is our job to make sure that they understand where we came from so we can guide where we are going. They have to understand that the situation we find ourselves in our a result of what happened that day 15 years ago.

I felt that 15 years ago I lost my sense of innocence, we all did. I lost my sense of safety. That was the intended goal of the terrorists that planned and committed these attacks to take away our innocence and to take away our safety. But we rise, every time we rise. We take challenges, we take the pain, and we take a deep hurt, and we go forward. In the face of darkness and evil, we have hope.  I will never forget that day, and the days after, and know it is my duty make sure my students understand those feelings that I felt. More importantly, it is my job to make sure that they understand how much love and more hope that we need in this world.

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