Saturday, September 11, 2010

lost and found

September 11, 2001.

It's one of those days that most of us will remember forever.  We will remember where we were, who we were with, what the weather was like, and what we felt.  We all have a story to tell about that day.

It was a Tuesday.  I had a mindless meeting before school, so I was already at school when the first plane hit the first tower.  The bell rang, school started.  First hour.  Second hour.  I was doing "inclusion" with an 8th grade science teacher at that hour.  My students were included in his2nd and 3rd hour classes, and we were standing on the sidewalk during the change of classes.  Someone came up to us and handed us a typed-written memo.  It said something very generic about the terrorist activities in New York and advised us not to say anything to our students and not to worry because local law enforcement was monitoring things..

First I'd heard about any terrorist activities.  So third hour started, and the teacher started with his daily routine - taking roll, etc.  I went to the computer in the back of the room and tried to find something - anything - that would tell us what was going on.  The servers were incredibly slow (overloaded) that day.  I think I probably tried the fox news and cnn.websites trying to get something.  Finally I went to - a parenting website with bulletin boards where I frequently posted.  Today that site would have been blocked, but not in those days.  There, I could see by postings of other parents what was going on.

I saw that both towers had fallen.  This was just inconceivable.  I couldn't cry then.  There was a class full of kids.  So we just carried on like normal.  I remember conveying the information that I had found to the teacher.  And we went on.

The day was beautiful.  Clear blue skies.  And not a plane in them, as I stood outside on playground duty.  It seemed more quiet than usual.

My sister had gotten married on September 7.  She was honeymooning in Pennsylvania.  I wondered about her safety.  My aunt and uncle from New Jersey had come down for her wedding.  They flew home on September 10.  They saw the World Trade Center towers from their plane.  They were beautiful in the setting sun. Who knew it was the last time the sun would sent on them?  My brother-in-law was living in LA at the time, but had a friend in NYC.  He had been visiting her that weekend, and he was on a plane from NYC to LA.  His plane was grounded in Ohio or some such place.  I think he finally rented a car and drove home.

There were a lot of things lost on that day.  3000 lives.  Innocence.  Security.  Liberty.  We saw evil that day. 

But there were also some things found on that day.  As only God can do, there was good that came from what was evil.  Our nation united in grief, in support, in a common purpose, but that unfortunately did not last.  Remember those flags that were everywhere??  Our family found its way back to church that weekend, and that did last.  While 3000 lives were lost, our 4 lives now have a fighting chance to be saved. 

I had always felt so safe in this country we call home.  Even if someone were to invade us - we would have at least *some* warning that they were coming, I rationalized.  Only with this, there was no warning.  They turned our own airplanes into weapons to be used against us.  The simplicity and the ease with which it was done deeply shook that sense of security I'd always had.  Suddenly we were vulnerable.  I was vulnerable.

It was a wake-up call for me to stop and look at my own life.  What would have been my fate on that day, if planes had hit *my* building???  It wasn't a reassuring thought.  We were infrequent church-goers, I hadn't been to confession in nearly a decade, and my confessions before that had been rather "selective" in what I confessed [read: not totally honest].  I had some "things" that needed to be set right.  This started the wheels turning and that did happen a few months down the road - the setting right - and it was a wonderful, wonderful thing.  

So, on this day, let us not give into the temptation to hate. Let us pray for our enemies. Let us morn for the things that were lost, and give thanks for the things that were found.   Let us always look for ways to bring good out of evil.

Here's a picture from the archives for you.  A picture of a picture because I'm not so fond of scanning any more, and the original is probably forever *stuck* in one of those "magnetic" photo albums.  This was taken on one of those visits to New Jersey to see my grandparents. We took a day trip to NYC.  I think this is about 1974.  My younger brother, my grandfather, my mother, me (I think those were seersucker pants) and my dad.  My then-2 -year old brother had been left behind, and my much-younger sister, not yet born.  Aren't we some stylish people??   Don't know who the back of the head belongs to.

1 comment:

  1. Your day was calmer than mine. Parents were coming to get their kids from school, almost in a panic. There is a nuclear plant not far from where we used to live, and people were freaking out about it. Kind of weird...people there think they're the middle of the universe when hardly anyone outside of that area has heard of that town. Plus the plant is a small one in comparison to others.
    I found my ticket to the World Trade Center when I was there in the late '80's. Surreal to think that it could've happened when we were at the top, enjoying the views of NYC.