Helping students process 9/11

On the morning of September 11th, 2001 I was doing what I do every September weekday morning. I was teaching American Government and U.S. History to a room full of 9th graders. 

When a colleague informed me, privately, about the attacks on the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon, I knew it was only a matter of time before parents started coming to pick up their kids at the school.  It didn't take long.  Panicked parents tried to get their kids but some didn't have identification and we couldn't release the student to them.  Needless to say, due to the stress of the morning, some were very displeased about this. Teachers were asked to help during their planning period so we could process more students whose parents were waiting to take them home. I wasn't sure then, and I'm still not sure now all these years later why many parents felt that a school more than 30 miles from the nation's capital wasn't safe on that day.  I suppose it was just panic and a natural reaction - wanting their kids close by.  No one knew what was next on that morning. The news we were getting was often confused and cell service was patchy at best due to how overloaded the call volume was. I was proud of our school system for being open on time the next morning. Some students were absent, but most came. We spent a day processing and grieving together. In the days and weeks after, things seemed to go back to normal.  But every year, on the anniversary it gets more difficult to engage current students on how significant that day was and how much it changed everything. My students today view 9/11 as something that happened "forever ago." It's akin to Pearl Harbor for them. But not for me.

And probably not for anyone over 25 years old.

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Stories of September 11