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September 11th

I've never really written about this but I thought since this is my day to blog and I live across the pond in The United States, I would. September 11th is one of those days many of us will never forget. Some don't remember. My youngling can't understand what happened, but he was born afterwards, so I get why he doesn't get it. My September 11th memory. I was a green teacher in a high school-slash-middle school. There were students ages ranging from 12-18. I hadn't been teaching for more than two weeks and the kids didn't know me from Adam. I didn't grow up in town and I didn't know all their parents like some of the teachers. The first class period of my day was actually a free period--a planning period. I usually turned on the television to catch the last of the news. That day was like the rest. TV on and me not really paying attention. When the second class period bell rang, TV went off and I went about greeting my students. As I stood in the hallway, a student (I'll call him Robert) stopped me. "Mrs Zwaduk, a plane hit the World Trade Center." He was a seventh grader. I didn't think he knew what the WTC was. "Okay," I replied. I wasn't sure what else to say. He strolled off and I walked into the classroom. Students filed into the room, some ashen faced. At this point, I figured I'd better turn on the television. If Robert was right, then it would be on the television. It was. I gasped as I took in the images. What really hit it home for me was the kids. Like I said, they didn't really know me. We hadn't muddled through a school year together. They, being seventh graders, were as green as me. No one talked. The kids sat as transfixed as me. I didn't keep behind my desk as I normally did when taking roll. I sat with them. The kids were just that--kids. They didn't get that something really big was happening, or rather they did but they weren't sure what to think. The little girl next to me, (I'll call her Marie) started to cry. I didn't say anything, just put my arm around her. It's what she said that scared me. "Are they gonna hit Perry?" Perry is a nuclear plant not far from where the school was. The idea that someone might blow the plant up hadn't crossed my mind. We had no idea that at that moment, there was a plane flying over our heads that carried a very bad situation. If the idea had crossed the mind of someone on that plane, a whole lot more damage might have been done. I'm glad it wasn't. Still, I saw boys and girls who only hours earlier were carefree and eager, grow up in a heartbeat. Some of them cried. More than a couple wanted to go home. The school was locked down. No calls out on cell phones. No texts. Just hunker down and hope we make it to the tornado areas. I'm not sure what huddling in the bathroom with our heads between our knees would do if there was a nuclear war, but we did as told. We watched the buildings collapse and I had to explain why people had jumped from such a dizzying height. We watched the pictures in real time. They say you'll never forget something like that. Whoever they were, they were right. By the time the last period bell rang, there were no words for what had happened. The kids didn't really talk. I can honestly say that was the quietest end of school I'd been involved with. I drove home glancing at the oddly quiet sky. No planes. Normally there were lots of planes buzzing through the sky over the school. We were in a direct flight path to land at Cleveland Hopkins Airport. Nothing. I spent the rest of the night worrying and crying. I didn't know what else to do. DH worked at an aiport. Which would be next? What had happened? Where else had it happened? That day changed a whole lot of things for a lot of people. I wasn't a green teacher any longer and the students weren't the same either. We went through something, albeit through the television, something that was beyond comprehension and came out stronger for it. The whole country did. We learned from the event, but I will admit, I never want to go through it again. I'll never forget.


Ayla Ruse said...

I agree, Wendi, and thanks for your post. Today I told my own kids about how 9-11 was for me. I was 8 months pregnant and at work. Through my boss's TV I caught bits and pieces of the events through the day, and I remember thinking how wrong it was to go on about our daily business when something so horrific was occurring. Thank you for sharing. I'm sure these kids, today, are remembering you and the comfort you gave them.

Lisabet Sarai said...

Thank you for sharing, Wendi, and Ayla,

I was living in a tiny village in Massachusetts. I worked at home, at my computer. We didn't have a TV. The first we heard about the blasts was a BBC broadcast that we always had scheduled to come on at noon. Then I tried to get online to get some information - difficult because the Internet was wedged from everyone else trying to get news.

My step sister worked only blocks from the WTC. My step-brother in law worked a bit further up town. I sat there, like everyone else I guess, dazed and unbelieving, praying that it was just a bad dream and that I'd wake up. But I also felt very isolated, far away, in my idyllic rural town far from the burning city.

Wendi Zwaduk said...

Thanks Ayla. Thanks Lisabet. It's oddly comforting what brings us together. Never forget.