In Spite of Everything

If you’re old enough to remember what happened 15 years ago today, you probably recall where you were, what you were doing, and what brought you through America’s most terrifying day.

I was busy getting my eighth grade classroom ready for a typical Tuesday, excited to continue our study of The Diary of Anne Frank. Before the 9 am bell rang, a student breathlessly burst in, “A plane hit the Twin Towers in New York!” Nick was a dramatic kid with a flair for hyperbole. And so begins another day thought I.

“Nick, I was just listening to the news and everything’s okay,” I reassured him. Within seconds, others had joined us. We turned on the classroom television. Everything was not okay.

A voice on the intercom told teachers to be prepared to take safety measures. We could use our discretion in allowing students to watch the unfolding news events. I turned off the television.

I picked up a piece of chalk. Three times I wrote, erased, and tried to write more legibly ~ In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can’t build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery and death. ~ Anne Frank

On September 11, 2001, I carried on with my lesson plan, as best I could, attempting to weave security and hope into the horrific day. Never had I felt so protective of my students. Wrapped in the warmth of our classroom and each other, we drew strength from a Jewish girl who, with a spirit of courage and optimism, faced inhumanity bred from power, hate, and ignorance.

I never stopped thinking about my own children a mile down the road at their elementary school. I prayed their teachers weren’t allowing them to watch the frightening live images. Like Anne, like Nick and his classmates, they were simply too beautiful for such ugliness.

I am still grateful their principal sent a note that afternoon saying the decision was made not to inform the students of the situation or to allow them to view the news. Principal Fulton wisely believed parents knew best what, and how much, to share with their own children. Hopefully, we did.

We must never forget that day, the people who risked their lives, or the people who lost their lives, but we must not live in fear or despair. We must never sink to the lowest level of humanity. We must have faith that the world is filled with more good than evil, and that good begins with each of us.

A 13-year-old girl, who was forced to hide for two years because of her religion, who knew she would likely be captured and killed by her enemies, wrote this in her diary, “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

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Think On These Things~ Alicia

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2 comments

  1. I had to learn a new sign that day. The sign for terrorist. And then I had the difficult task of explaining its meaning.

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    1. Oh my goodness. I think those of us who were teaching that day faced it in a very different way than most. I’m sure you remember it as well as I do. Thanks so much for reading our blog! It’s nice to have a few loyal followers. Hugs.

      Liked by 1 person

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