Friday, September 9, 2011

I Remember...

It's a weekend of remembrance. No American will forget where they were when they saw the news.

I was working as an assistant librarian in a high school library. The day started out as many others had. A teacher came in and told us that a plane had hit one of the twin towers. We assumed the pilot of a small plane had a heart attack and the plane crashed as a result.

More teachers came down and asked that they bring their classes down to watch the news unfold. When the school was built, no cable television wire had been laid. Strange for a two-year-old building. One of the techs figured out how to rig the televisions to show local news channels. I tried repeatedly to get on national news sites, but they had crashed.

About the time we got TV reception, the towers fell. We hoped there had been enough time, but news at that point was sketchy at best.

After the news of the unimaginable became apparent, the students started reacting. Kids were not allowed to use school phones, but when they came to me and said things like, "My dad is a pilot. I don't know where he's flying today," I just dialed the number and handed them the handset. How could I not--I called my own mother after getting home that day.

I also walked countless children to the packed counselor's office. Five counselors for 2,000 children were spread very thin that day.

My girls were in elementary and middle school at the time. The younger children were protected, but enough middle schoolers were aware of some of the events. On boy announced to the class that skyscrapers in Dallas had been attacked and that the entire city was on fire. My daughter immediately became distraught because her father worked in Dallas and called me. I tried to reassure her that I had just spoken to him, but she was unconvinced. He had to call her so she could have proof he was fine.

My oldest son was in Mexico on a mission for our church. Missionaries aren't usually allowed to watch television, but he was given permission to watch CNN to personally witness the attacks on our country.

The terror and emotional suffering experienced by the high school students and staff are permanently imprinted on my soul, as was the silent frozen days that followed.

What can we take away from the tragedy? The need for understanding rather than confrontation and love rather than hate. Remember how you felt and use that as an impetus to make the world better for those around you.