I remember sitting at my desk at the school where I teach. My students were in a special, so I was alone in the room. The music teacher ran to my door and said, “Did you hear about the planes?” I looked up from grading papers and responded that I hadn’t heard. She proceeded to tell me about the crash into the World Trade Center. As I walked to office to view it on television, I thought surely it had been an accident and wondered how many lives were affected. Once inside the office I had only a moment to watch the video clips and then had to retrieve my students. I left the office still not sure what was going on, but also not having a good feeling inside. As the day unfolded, we all realized the terror of what had happened. Many of us made phone calls to family and friends, either to check on them or just to hear their voices. The day would change most of us forever.
To think back now the images are still so emblazed in my mind, even though at the time it all seemed so surreal. I remember thinking, “How do I keep my cool in front of these kids, while I fear for the lives of so many innocent people?” When the prinicpal came in to tell me about the Pentagon, I wanted to run out the door, but how could I? I had 30 plus students sitting in their chairs in front of me, already sensing the tension in the buliding. I had to pull it together for them and I did. All of us teachers in the building pulled from somewhere deep inside and remained calm and level-headed for our students. It was the ultimate test of strength and faith. I prayed and trusted God so much that day, I felt at times I could burst. I’m sure many people did the same. It seemed as if all over people united and smiled and just reached out to each other. Maybe we were looking to others for some feeling of security or hope. We wanted to know that it was all going to be OK, even if it didn’t look that way at all.
Ten years later, I can sit in my home or my classroom and I do feel secure. I also feel stronger as a person. I lived through one of the most horrific events of all time. I didn’t experience the devastation firsthand, but I cried right along with others. I mourned the lives lost. I found within myself a new strength and sense of patriotism. We are the United States of America. No matter what any terror group tries to do, they can’t take that from us. So many people united during that time ten years ago. Our country’s leaders, police men and women, fire fighters, volunteers, teachers, city workers and more all joined together to help and take action where they could. I’m proud that I was a part of that. I stood in my classroom and educated students on that day so many years ago. I learned that in the face of danger and destruction, I could be brave and strong. I could hold my head up and do my part. Isn’t that one of life’s goals that we all strive for? We all have a God-given power inside of us and it can propel us to do awesome things. All we have to do is reach inside and pull from it. I did that day and I love myself more for doing so. I know I can be counted on and I know that I can make a difference. That’s how 9-11 changed me and strengthened me…forever.