I must confess – I’m suffering from 9/11 fatigue. Not because I’m tired of hearing about the terrorist attacks of ten years ago and the remembrances thereof, but because of the overwhelming and very conflicting emotions associated with those remembrances.
There was the terrible, terrible national crisis, with so much confusion. There was the shining few moments of national unity afterward, when there was no question of one’s patriotism because of political belief or creed. But, now there is division unlike any in recent memory.
As I was planning what to write on this day, my intent was to express my disappointment that our nation had an opportunity to rise from terrible tragedy, and that opportunity has been squandered. However, my fellow blogger and friend, Brad Willis, expressed it so much more eloquently.
I honor the memory of the heroes and innocents who died ten years ago on September 11, 2001. I honor their bravery, their sacrifice, and their families and friends. Whether by chance or by duty, they were America€™s finest citizens on that sunny late summer morning. They will forever be my heroes.
Their deaths made us hold each other. Their deaths brought us together as a nation in this promise:
We will not let your sacrifice be in vain.
I cannot think of a more patriotic or respectful way to remember those people than to say in their memories, €œI€™m sorry. We failed.€
Please take the time to read all of Brad’s essay.
As I see many doing on Facebook and other places, I remember exactly where I was on that day. It was a Tuesday, and we were getting ready to go into a principals meeting. Retired Air Force Colonel Sam Betsill was our then assistant superintendent for administration and facilities. He came to my office and told me that an airplane had been flown into the World Trade Center.
The principals had already arrived from their schools, but it was a very short meeting. At that point our superintendent suggested a course of action, our principals agreed, and I reluctantly enacted their plan. I shut off all Internet access to our district.
The idea was that we didn’t want students or teachers teachers obsessing about the attacks. I still have regrets about that action. I think it just added to the confusion. And, of course, I took most of the heat for that decision.
And confusion is what I remember most. When it became clear that multiple planes and multiple targets were involved, ALL planes became suspect. Anything out of the ordinary was suspect. In the days that followed, a bus on its way from Atlanta to Charlotte was stopped on I-85 and surrounded by law enforcement. It turned out to be a false alarm, but indicates the level of tension.
Laura’s sister was in Baltimore when the attacks occurred, and was trapped when all flights were grounded. Wednesday morning Laura and I were our car, backing out of our driveway to go get her when we got the call that she had boarded a train for home.
So, as I sit here on this beautiful, sad morning, despite our missed national opportunities, I’m thankful that I can hear planes flying overhead, and that these don’t cause me panic or worry. And despite my 9/11 fatigue, I will take part in remembrances, and will continue to do so.
One thought on “Remembering 9/11”
I was a student in middle school went the Challenger accident occurred, and in the midst of that tragedy, my teacher used this as an ultimate “teachable moment” – helping us to understand what had just happened before our eyes.
On 9/11/01, I was a teacher in middle school computer lab when my phone rang from our Civil Air Patrol HQ asking did I know what was happening. I immediately turned to the Internet for information, and within 10 minutes of that call, was on my way to the state emergency operations center.
As I arrived, over 100 hundred people were setting in near silence, watching the displays in the front of the room. There was little movement as all we could really do was watch, hope, and pray.
Looking back, my more noble duty may have been in that classroom with my students in their ultimate “teachable moment” – helping them to make sense of the consequences of that most tragic day.
In either case, the events of 9/11 only increased my commitment to God, Country, family, and community. My prayer is that our remembrance of this day lead us to unity in the face of extremism and courage within the shadow of uncertainty.