On 9/11/01

To My Children:
On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, I was in the staff room at the school where I was student teaching. The principal made an announcement that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. The staff was bemused. How could a pilot missed a building as big as the WTC? Was he ill? Sick?

"I bet it's Osama bin Laden," I said suddenly, off hand.

"Who?" asked another teacher.

Later a student was pulled out of class to go home and my mentor teacher asked me to see what was going on. The office was in chaos and the phones were ringing off the hook. I went to check our mail and the small black and white TV showed the Pentagon in flames.

I thought my father had gone to the Pentagon on TDY.

The country was rocked and nothing was the same again.

I broke down, fearing the worst. It was hours before I learned everyone I loved was fine. Horrified. Shocked. Scared. But fine.

I wondered then what I would tell my children. I wonder now, as  you ask question, what to tell you.

On Sept. 10, 2001, your father and I were house hunting. We were planning our wedding and our biggest worry was affording it all. The next day, I sat in your grandmother's kitchen, staring at the TV and crying, scared. You see, nothing like this had happened. We had no warning. We knew nothing: if this was the beginning, the end, who was next, who had died, who had lived.

Word slowly came out, over time, what had happened and why. I won't tell you. You will know. You will learn about it in history class and watch it on TV. I promise that one day, when you are old enough to witness the horror on the History Channel, I will sit and watch it with you. I will tell you the stories, answer  your questions. I will bring out my diary with the e-mails from my cousin pasted inside. She lives in NYC and sent me her accounts of that day. I will tell you what Nana saw and where Nono was. I will bring you the old and crinkled newspapers and the shirts we bought shortly after.

I believe first person accounts are the best way to learn history. I believe you will need to understand what happened so you may be part of the generation that will sow peace. Learn from history, so it is never repeated again.

Yet I there is so much I can't teach you. I can't impart the feelings on you. I can't make you feel how Sept. 10th was one day, then Sept. 11th happened and Sept. 12th was a whole new uncharted world. I can't give you the uncertainty, how no one knew what would happen next. We were showed into a whole new world, a world no one wanted to be in... but a world we had to make happen.

I told you this morning that some people hated America so much they ordered others to take control of planes and kill people. I told you they tried to fly planes into the capital but heroes took over those planes and crashed them into fields. They saved many people. I reminded you that Jesus wants us to pray for all of them, even the hijackers. I told you I pray you never know that level of hatred and that it never affects you. It was a day when it seemed like evil was going to win.

But evil did not and will not win. Yesterday we stood near a busy street with my parents and watched a mile of motorcycles drive by. Every year they ride all over the metro area, remembering 9/11. We stood and waved and cheered. We were happy and so, so proud to be Americans.

Those terrorist attacks brought this country together. We mourned, cried and celebrated the heroes and lives of the brave men and women who died . . . together. They did change America but they did not bring us down. It was a dark, dark day but slowly the light began to creep in.

I pray you remember the darkness but always see, and work for, the light.