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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

9/11 Remembered - Is It One of Ours?

09/11/2012

This year I'm teaching Computer Technology at an urban school in Steelton, PA.  We are a Jr.-Sr. High School with students from 7th grade through 12th grade.  My six daily classes cover students from all the grades in the school.

Today was the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.  While Social Studies teachers spent the day discussing the events of 9/11, most other classes continued with their normal lesson plans.  I forged onward with my classes of computer applications, word processing, and keyboarding.  

While I didn't have any special lesson for 9/11, I was surprised that none of my students even mentioned the attacks.  All day student life seem to go on as normal.  I suppose this is a good thing, but it did surprise me.  Then, during my last period of the day, one of my young 7th grade students asked me if I remembered 9/11 and if I had any stories about that time.

Since most of these students were only 2 years old in 2001, they didn't have any first hand memories of the events of 9/11.  All they had to go on were the stories others told them.  I thought for a moment.  I'm sure they heard stories from teachers all day about where they were when the towers came down.  I wanted to give them a different perspective.  I wanted them to understand how those days affected children their age.  So I told them this story...a true story...a first hand story...of those troubled and fearful times.

In 2001 I was living in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia.  I was married and my step-daughter played on a travel soccer team.  I helped coach this team of then 11 year old girls.  When 911 occurred, all air traffic in the U.S. was halted for 3 days.  The skies were clear of all aircraft, except the military's CAP (combat air patrols) that flew over our own country.

Shortly after 9/11, the President asked the country to try to maintain normal activities.  Go to work.  Go shopping.  Don't let the terrorist dictate our lives.

The league in which our team played decided to continue games.  So, on Thursday evening, we packed up our girls and drove to Virginia to play a soccer game.  Before the game there was a moment of silence, followed by everyone there saying the Pledge of Allegiance to a large flag at one end of the field.  Finally there was the traditional singing of the National Anthem by one of the players before the start of the game.

The game began under clear sunny skies.  Both teams played a little tentatively at first, but soon the intensity picked up and we had ourselves a competitive little game of soccer.

Suddenly, we all heard it.  High overhead a lone jet plane was flying...an unusual sound in those days.  One of the girls had just made a long pass down the field as the plane flew over.  No one went after the ball and it eventually rolled out of bounds untouched.  Instead, 22 little girls stopped in the middle of the soccer field and looked up, trying to see the plane.  Then they started running to their respective benches where their coaches and parents waited, crying, "Is it one of ours?"

For what I believe was the first time in our history, 22  little girls in America looked up at the sky in fear of a jet aircraft overhead and cried, "Is it one of ours?"

That was a sound I will never forget. A sound I never thought I'd hear in my lifetime. Our children fearing for their lives within our own borders.   I can only pray I will never hear it again. 

Because I never want to hear American children cry out in fear, "Is it one of ours?"

God bless America...

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