I was 16 years old, a sophomore. The day started out like a typical high school day. My classmates and I had finished a test and were sitting around talking waiting for the bell to ring. A staff member walked in and handed a note to my teacher. At that moment, my typical high school day turned into one that I will never forget. It became a day that no one would ever forget.
The moment that teacher stepped in with the note, it was evident that something was wrong. The inquisitive and nosey student that I was, I asked what it was about. Very casually, my teacher told me that a plane had crashed into the pentagon. She said it so nonchalantly that my peers returned to their conversations without missing a beat. I remember sitting in the cold classroom and taking a few seconds to process the information I had just been given. “The pentagon?” I responded. “Isn’t the pentagon a pretty big deal?” I remember my teacher shrugging her shoulders and telling me it was nothing to worry about.
When the bell rang, I walked quickly to my next class — journalism. Entering the room, I could tell by the look on my teacher’s face that a plane hitting the pentagon was, in fact, something to worry about. As we quietly sat down, we were informed of the note that the teachers had received. That our nation was currently under attack, the worst attack it had ever seen on its own soil. We were told that faculty had been directed not to discuss the events with students or allow students to view the events on tv. Fortunately for me, I was in journalism and no memo was going to stop us from watching history.
It was terrifying. It was heart wrenching. It was completely unexplainable and unimaginable. I understand the administrations reasons for wanting to censor the event; however, I am forever grateful for the teacher who switched on the tv, sat down at a student desk, and watched in silence with us. On that day, we were all the same. Not just in that classroom, but nationwide. We were all the same. We were connected. We were vulnerable. We embraced our nation, ignored our differences, and all sat silently in front of tvs watching the twin towers crumble and the horrifying aftermath that ensued.
It has been 12 years since September 11th. Now, instead of a student, I am a teacher. Tomorrow, I must face my class of inquisitive fourth graders and attempt to find the right way to explain the importance of the day on our calendar. But how? How do you correctly explain that? It is the same conundrum my teachers and administration faced 12 years ago. I don’t want my students to know the horror of that day; but at the same time, just like my journalism teacher, I do. It is a piece of our country, our history. It is 9/11 and a day we will never forget.