Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Where were you?

Flag in my classroom that flew over the US Capitol

I was getting ready to start teaching (I still have the lesson plan from that day). I had been in a meeting all morning and had left home before anything started happening. One of my students came in and told me that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. I honestly didn’t believe her at first. Then all of the kids started telling me about it. I went to my computer and pulled up CNN. That was when I knew something big had happened. The CNN website was overloaded. All they had up was an image of the second plane hitting the tower. I can still see that picture in my mind. As the day wore on, we would get periodic updates from the office but we were told not to say anything to the kids. Talk about a hard thing to do. The kids knew something was going on (they can always tell when I’m upset, or having a bad day, or not feeling good) and we couldn’t say anything, we just had to keep teaching while all we wanted to do was sit down and watch the news. At the end of the day, I sat down with the kids and I told them that something happened today. When you get home, talk to your parents about it. It is something that you will never forget.
The next day was hard. Everyone was still scared about something else happening. As a teacher I wasn’t sure how to talk about it. Is terrorism appropriate to discuss at the fifth grade level? So I improvised. I had worked at one of the local casinos on the grounds crew one summer and when they changed the flag, I asked if I could have the old one. They let me have it and it had been in a box since then. It is huge, literally covering most of one wall of my classroom. I took it out that morning and hung it up. It was pretty impressive to see it hanging there. When the kids came in we didn’t talk about the attacks, we talked about patriotism and what that meant. If anything good could have come from September 11th, it was that there became a renewed sense of patriotism. I think it has lasted pretty well but needs to be emphasized. I also gave the kids some small flag stickers that I had in my desk and they wore them. By the end of the day I had teachers coming in and asking me if I had more for them to wear.
In my classroom there are always two flags flying. The small one provided by the school and one that I bought that has flown over the capitol in Washington D.C. I think it is important for us not to take our freedoms for granted and to remember those that protect us. On this anniversary, that is what I will talk to the kids about. Where were you on this day six years ago?

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