How many of you remember where you were on September 11, 2001? I remember that I was teaching a math lesson and had no idea what was going on in the world around me. It was a typical, beautiful September day without a cloud in the sky and we were getting ready to do our math work in groups. Then, one of my colleagues, an out of classroom teacher, came in and told me that I had to call my husband. I immediately thought that something was wrong with the kids or my mother and said I would call in a moment. She said that the principal insisted that I call right now.
This alarmed me. I left the room and called my husband. It was busy, busy, busy….. What was going on ? At that very moment, my mother called and told me that my husband was safe and that my kids were coming home from school. Needless to say I did not expect to hear the words from her mouth that the twin towers were struck down and they are closing New York City. I froze. What do I do first? At least I knew my family was safe, so my next job was to ensure that my students were safe and not aware of what was going on.
We had an emergency staff meeting where we watched and cried as we saw our beloved towers fall, not knowing who we knew that was in that rubble or who had even started this unforeseen event. We would never be the same, from that moment forward.
Slowly the children were picked up. We were told not to say anything to our primary grade students and let their families take them home, hug them and explain what is happening in the world. I can’t even tell you if I remember getting home but I just remember hugging my daughters so tightly that I could not let go. We sat together in awe watching the news until their father arrived safe and sound. We had a quiet but not relaxing family dinner.
After dinner we went to our church to pray for the safe return of Lieutenant Joseph Leavey, our beloved parishioner and friend who was working at his firehouse at the South Street seaport when the towers were hit. We prayed and prayed for his safety. Most of us knew he was not returning but we held onto that hope. We had just had a joyous Church barbeque two days prior and I remember sitting with him talking about school starting and our plans for the fall. Joe would never return home as would not eight other members of our Pelham community. These included two brothers, Joseph and Peter Shea, who were neighbors and their children were friends with mine. It included Month Horde who’s daughter Molly played softball with my daughter. Also, our chief of Police’s son did not return home. The stories continue and we lost 9 people in Pelham, New York where a beautiful memory garden with all their names stands tall.
This year the memory of this day is affecting us differently. We are living in a country that is trying to survive the worst pandemic we have seen in over 100 years. The country is also trying to survive the rioting, looting and horrible treatment of others we witness every day on the news. This coupled with the division of political parties as we near closer to our presidential election. Personally, I feel the pain all over again every September 11. This year I am not teaching and did not get to read the book Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey by Maira Kalman about the fireboat that went to save some survivors and look for others after that horrific event.
Personally, I hope that everyone takes time to reflect on this horrible memory yet remember the unity we felt as a state and as a country. I only wish that we can feel that unity again. Unfortunately, no matter which way the election turns out, there will be retribution to face and possibly more rioting and lives lost.
Take time today to say a prayer for our heroes we lost on September 11, 2001. We will never forget…….