Earlier this summer, some friends I made 10 years ago came back into the country for a visit, and I recollected on the past 10 years. Again, I'm thinking back 10 years ago, to the specific day -- September 11, 2001.
I had only been teaching at this high school for a few weeks, and even before the school day started, I was an emotional mess. A mentor teacher walked me down and suggested to the principal that I be sent home; I sobbed, insisting that I could pull it together and teach that day. But my principal (who's always had a big heart) sent me home. Since my roommate was at work, I decided to take a run around the neighborhood and ended up running to the church. My pastor was rather concerned about whether I was able to let my parents (who live out-of-the-country) know that everything was ok, and I was so confused. But after watching the little tv in his office display the horror of a commercial airplane used as a weapon, I hurried home in disbelief that evil met our innocent ones on our doorstep.
Even today, it really hurts to think about any of the events of Sept. 11, 2001. I know this is not a perfect world, but to look evil in the face is extremely uncomfortable. And as time goes on, we lose the personalization and some of the severity of the experience. As a teacher, I had a small writing series focused on 9-11, and towards my last few years of teaching, I had students say they could barely remember what even happened. I was shocked -- something that was of great impact to me was becoming just a historical event, as they were disconnected from it, much like Carl Sandburg's "Grass."
Pile the bodies high at Austerlitz and Waterloo.
Shovel them under and let me work -
I am the grass; I cover all.
And pile them high at Gettysburg
And pile them high at Ypres and Verdun.
Shovel them under and let me work.
Two years, ten years, and passengers ask the conductor:
What place is this?
Where are we now?
I am the grass.
Let me work.
It is important to remember and to tell those who have trouble remembering. We should strive to never be those ignorant passengers and impart those who come after us with the stories truly worth remembering, that they will be stronger men and women because of it.