18 Septembers Ago

Do you remember where you were? Do you remember what you were doing? Do you remember how you felt?

I know I do.

Surrounded by the chaos of students on picture day at a local middle school where I was teaching, I was a bit oblivious to anything outside the school walls.

We had only just begun ushering in classes of students when a fellow teacher shared the information that a plane had hit a building in NYC, but even then, it didn’t seem real. And for quite a while I couldn’t get a moment to take in fully what was happening.

Our entire campus was on a tight schedule to get all 700+ kids and teachers photographed in our annual picture day. It was my job, as the yearbook teacher, to corral and coordinate each class, each grade so we would have the photos for the yearbook and parents would have their packets.

But it became clear, once we learned about what happened, that we would need to reschedule because as more information came in, parents began swarming the front office to pick up their children.

Our campus was close to a major airport and parents felt their kids would be safer at home with them. The numbers of students kept dropping and there was a sense of urgency and, to be honest, a bit of panic. When I was finally able to find time to look at a television in one of the history teachers’ classrooms, it was devastating.

The horror of what was being shown was beyond shocking and heartbreaking. Seeing the towers coming down and seeing people running, falling, sobbing caused my own tears to pour down my cheeks and I remember whispering emotional prayers while calling my own parents to check on them and receive a run down on where all of our extended family members were.

When the school day finally ended, and I was able to head home, there was a strange sense of quiet. Not hearing any airplanes overhead. No normal traffic patterns. And, once at home, I remember being glued to the television, unable to truly process what had happened, but grieving the lives tragically cut short.

I love my country, my America. I was blessed to be with colleagues and friends when I learned of the attack that day. Along with the innocent lives lost, each year I mourn for the unity and kindness, patriotism and generosity that we shared together in the midst of that awful moment 18 years ago. I pray that we would find a way to bless those around us, to love one another as God loves us, and to always be thankful for the freedoms we have.

I know I will always remember this day in our nation’s history.

I can’t forget.

-Rachel, Little Lamb Books publisher