Unbagging the Cats 1

Unbagging the Cats 1

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The 9/11 One

Ten years ago today, I was in my classroom, teaching at-risk students. It was our second year in our brand-new high school building. We were three weeks into first quarter, and spirits were high.

The day started as usual at 8:12 a.m. with first bell. Around 8:30 CDT, our counselor showed up at my door. She called me out and told me that two planes had crashed into the World Trade Center, that it did not appear to be an accident, and to keep the students calm. The office personnel and central office were monitoring the situation. Parents were calling the school asking what we were going to do.

Kids are not stupid. They could tell something was up. We didn't have television in any classrooms. Streaming video was not an option. I had a computer that used Windows 3.1, with no internet connection. Students had to rely on the teachers for information. And I was not supposed to discuss it.

Secrets are not kept well at school. By the end of first hour, several students from various classes had wangled restroom permission, and used the respite from the watchful eye of the classroom teacher to check their cell phones. Cell phones which, no doubt, had been vibrating to beat the band, with parents seeing this event unfold from home, and needing confirmation that all was well with Junior. Those kids went back to class and told other kids. By second hour, they were asking teachers what was going on. Their direct questions were answered. We assured them that we were all looking out for their safety. Parents started to arrive to check out their kids and take them home.

The civics classes went to the library to watch the coverage on television. The rest of us muddled on. Students coming from civics told us the current status. We went through the motions of a regular lesson. A stream of parents lined up out front. Kids were nervous.

After lunch, I had to drive to the middle school for my afternoon classes. The students there were calm. This age really relies on teachers to set their course, to show them how to act. They don't try to put on a front to show how cool, how bad, how unconcerned they are in a crisis. Genius was in first grade. I was fairly certain his day would go on as usual. I couldn't imagine the elementary turning on their TVs. The Pony was only three, at daycare in another town. So I didn't worry about him and his under-five companions.

I watched the news coverage into the night. For weeks, I had trouble sleeping. The sound of a plane put my nerves on edge. Students hearing a plane would ask me to look out and see what kind, and how close. I observed the contrails in the sky. Were they the same direction as this time every other day? My home is apparently on the flight path for fighter jet training out of Scott Air Force Base. The skies were quite active. Some of those guys fly pretty low. But it was fascinating to watch them twist and evade and roar back and forth over my roof.

The tragedy still upsets me. I can't read the newly-released phone calls from people on Flight 93. I can't watch the memorials. I watched the Nicolas Cage/Maria Bello movie, World Trade Center, about a year after it came out. I won't watch it again. Last night, I saw the end of Flight 93. I won't watch it again, either. I can't. I can't think of the people trapped on the roof of the World Trade Center. Of those who jumped. Or those inside when it collapsed.

I am naturally suspicious, from being a teacher all my life. I am on the lookout for behavior that is just a little off. I avoid crowds. I would never go to a national landmark or a sporting event or a parade or a casino on a major holiday. Or 9/11. I am perhaps less tolerant of people than I would have been pre 9/11. It's not a rainbow-and-unicorn world. No matter how much we want to make it all go away, and treat everybody equally to show how politically correct we are, to do so will one day make us a laughingstock to those hell-bent on harming us. A laughingstock, or dead.

That's my opinion. You are each welcome to yours.


Arlee Bird said...

I don't like big crowded places and it's not because of 9/11. My biggest fear of a new terrorist attack would be more to do with the release of a disease producing agent or poison that would slowly scatter throughout the population. Also, a cyberattack or outage of power or some vital service that would create turmoil and stop everything. Future attacks from terrorists may not be as dramatic as 9/11 was and in many ways more insidious and devastating to the economy.

Tossing It Out

Val Thevictorian said...

Thanks so much for those new nightmarish scenarios to keep me awake at night!

What's with all the food poisoning lately? Another possibility. But I still think they want to make a dramatic statement.

Linda O'Connell said...

I won't allow THEM to make ME stop living, although I will forever be more aware (suspicious).

I fear some of our own. People are going crazy!

Kelley said...

I so agree with you. For me, the image that always floods my mind are the people jumping. There is no way they would have ever wanted to jump to their deaths. They were probably happy people that were content with their life and then they were forced to make that decision. Horrific. The whole thing is horrific.

Val Thevictorian said...

Well, people have always been crazy, but they knew somebody would beat the crap out of them in the olden days, while society looked the other way. I'm talking about the pervs, and those who beat on women and children. Now people don't want to get involved, and the judicial system bends over backwards to allow these elements their due process. A perp can be caught red-handed, ON TAPE, and get off on a technicality such as not having his Miranda rights read to him. Even though he might have had them read a multitude of times in previous convictions.

I'm not advocating a vigilante society...but some of the nuts might be dissuaded by the thought of victims or bystanders fighting back. Like the Springfield MO bus station shooter last week was subdued and disarmed before he could kill more. http://ozarksfirst.com/fulltext?nxd_id=520187

Yes. The KNOWING that you have no chance would be most horrific.

labbie1 said...

You are right! I do remember exactly where I was, what I was doing, my first thoughts and what I was doing!

I was sitting on the sectional with a cup of coffee watching a morning show when they broke in with the first reports that a plane had hit a building.

I watched as they then spotted another plane coming into the second tower at which point everyone knew these were not accidents, but an attack.

I awakened my niece who was 24 and staying with us at the time. She came out and curled up on that sectional in the basement to watch the coverage.

I remember like it was 5 minutes ago when she asked, "Is it over?" and my answer that "no--this is just the beginning. There is more. These are the red herrings. They are going after the capital. This is just like a Tom Clancy novel!" I don't know HOW I knew that they were going after the capital--I just KNEW!

We watched in horror as the day progressed with the other two planes and sighed in relief when the president closed down all air traffic. I said a prayer for our president and thanked God he had the guts and foresight to make that decision.

Gman was at Gulfstream at Love Field when the air space was closed and would not be home for a while, but we were all safe!

With little to be done, I used my grief energy to put out my flags in honor of those lost. I remember how it was so hard to find an American Flag at the store because of people doing the same. But, it made me wonder...why did they have to go and buy and flag? Didn't they already have one?...

So many images still exist in my mind of that fateful day...

I so agree with you! Political correctness will, it would seem, be the end of us! Wake up! JMHO

labbie1 said...

PS--when we were in NY and Gman was working in Manhattan on 9/11/09 There was NO WAY I would have been in NYC that day! As it was, the last time we went into the city we were just leaving as the Time Square bomber was arriving. Too close for comfort thank you very much! Not into crowds anyway...

Val Thevictorian said...

Crowds never were my thing. Now especially not. I don't think I could handle New York. Boston is my easternmost adventure, and that was a long time ago.