I am no different than anyone else. We all have memories of September 11, 2001. Thirteen years ago today. Sometimes it seems like yesterday, and sometimes it seems like it never really happened. Each of us remembers where we were, what we were doing, and who we were with. Most of all, I think we remember the feeling of shock, confusion, and then deep sadness. Except for the fact that I was teaching fifth grade at the time, I won’t go into detail about my experience. We all have our own experiences and memories. But the fact that I was teaching is important. I needed to be with my students and try to find a glimmer of hope for them. But of course, my need to connect with my family and friends was overwhelming. We covered classes for each other so teachers could call and check on their loved ones. Even though my children were in Austin, not New York, I can still feel the overwhelming panic that rose inside me when I couldn’t get in touch with them. But we were all in this together. We bonded as a group, as a school, and as a community. Each one of us was burdened with personal fears, but we were connected. I was so grateful for my school community.
The country came together as I’d never seen before. But even then I was angry that it took an event as horrific as this to bring us close. As I watch the news these days, I worry. Will there be another 9/11? Is ISIS knocking on our door? The country is divided. Will it take another disaster to bring us together? What can we do as individuals and communities to keep ourselves and each other safe? Demonizing every Muslim is not the answer. Scapegoating Jews is not the answer. Social media filled with hate is not the answer. What is? I wish I knew.
I am worried, but for now, I will be thankful. Although I have lost family members since 2001, my family has also grown. My boys were safe in Austin that day, and now they are married to wonderful girls and are the fathers of adorable little boys. We are lucky. So today I, along with the rest of the country, remember the events in New York on September 11, 2001. I will mourn those who lost their lives, thank the first responders, and hope we can come together as a country to protect each other. Nobody can do it alone.