Photo of husband and son with Twin Towers barely seen on the left.
September 11, 2001 was one of those events that the whole country shared, perhaps even the whole world. Everyone has a story of where they were when they heard the news.
Here’s my story. Not eventful. Not newsworthy. But mine nonetheless.
I was teaching 4th grade at a small Christian school. I had my little students in a neat line walking back to the classroom after taking a morning break. I greeted the first-grade teacher as she approached us and she quickly came close to me and whispered in my ear, “The Pentagon has been attacked.” I stopped, stunned and she quickly continued on her way.
The students must have read my face because they immediately started asking, “What’s wrong Mrs. Libby?” “What did Mrs. Maria say?” I gathered my facial composure, smiled and moved them along to the classroom.
My mind couldn’t comprehend what she said. She wasn’t joking. It had to be true, but if it was life was changed forever.
Back in class, I tried to teach math while every fiber of my being wanted to run to the office, to a television, to a radio, to someone who could tell me what was going on.
When I had a break from the students I hurried to the office to find that everyone was shaken. I got the news from the school secretary and my very first reaction was to gather my family close to me. My husband was working in Atlanta, my daughter was at the local public elementary school and my son was attending the school where I taught.
When I could, I called my husband and he said the rumors were that the airport was shut down and that they were possibly going to shut down some of the highways. So, he wasn’t sure when he could get home. I wanted to rush to the school and get my daughter to get her close to me. But I had a responsibility to my class of little 4th graders. I had to make sure they were okay until their parents came to get them.
My son was supposed to be at break, but I couldn’t find him in the lunchroom. I finally found him and a few of his friends in the church nursery watching the report on the television that was used to show videos and cartoons to the kids. It was strange to see those long, lanky teenagers standing among the nursery toys staring solemn-faced at the TV. They suddenly looked so much older. My mind raced as I wondered if we were going to war. Had a war already started? Would there be war in our country? Would these boys I was looking at become soldiers? I kept my thoughts to myself.
Their response to what they were seeing was, “It feels like I’m watching a movie.”
I made it through the day by deflecting the kid’s questions and changing the subject but since some of their parents worked at the school and it was a small school, word got around. We played games and went to recess and had lunch, all the normal activities but my mind was racing all day.
Finally, that evening, I pulled my family together. We talked about what happened. We were scared. Life was different.