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REFLECTIONS ON 9/11 - 20 YEARS LATER


Do you remember what you were doing that day? I certainly do. It was the second full week of school and I drove just above the speed limit up Bloomfield Avenue. I was excited to get ready for a great day with my 3rd, 4th and 5th graders. My plan was to arrive early, write the day’s lessons on the board, and call a few parents. My youngest son had just boarded the bus to middle school. He was so excited about 6th grade. I mulled over last night’s conversation with my oldest son at college. It was a perfect morning. Not a cloud in the sight and I distinctly remember that the sky was absolutely beautiful. All seemed right with the world.

My favorite song blasted on the radio just as I pulled into the school parking lot. Since I had made it there in record time, I unbuckled my seat belt, threw my head back, grabbed my water bottle/microphone and sang along with Stevie Wonder’s AS. I unpacked three school bags from my trunk, loaded them into my trusty shopping cart and rolled into the side door of the school.

“ATTENTION TEACHERS, YOU ARE NOT TO TALK ABOUT THE INCIDENT WITH ANY OF YOUR STUDENTS UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE!” The principal’s voice boomed over the intercom and echoed throughout the building. He sounded unusually stern and nervous at the same time.

“What incident?” I thought while I rolled the cart down the hallway to my classroom. A sense that something wasn’t right came over me.

Fifteen minutes later, I learned about the incident that would forever change the United States and our world. As the school day dragged on, I was filled with sadness, shock and anger. To keep my studentsI calm, I did my best to stay calm throughout the day. It was extremely difficult!


Unfortunately, a few of the students in the school were picked up early that day because either their mom or dad worked at the World Trade Center. One of those parents never returned home. It was a grim, sad, heart-wrenching day that I will never forget.

Books can help children process life events. They have the power to teach, comfort, inspire and support the healing process. Here are a few titles about that fateful day. As the country stops to relive the 20th anniversary of that awful day, I encourage you to consider reading one of these books with your child to help them gain perspective about 9/ll.

September Roses (FSG, 2004) by Jeanette Winter is a small touching book about two South African women (on their way to a flower show) who were stranded in the aftermath of September 11 with a thousand of roses. The women use the rose petals to create a memorial in Union Square. The book demonstrates the way people responded after the tragedy. Pre-3

America Is Under Attack: September 11, 2001: The Day the Towers Fell (Flashpoint, 2011) from Don Brown's Actual Times series. It is a straightforward and honest account that moves chronologically through the morning, from the plane hijackings to the crashes at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and Pennsylvania. Middle Grade

With Their Eyes: September 11th--The View from a High School at Ground Zero (Collins, imprint of Harper Collins, 2011) edited by Annie Thoms. A collection of powerful spoken word essays written by high school students who witnessed the tragedy unfold. High School

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