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Writer's Block: 9/11 #9/11neverforget

Where were you?

I was in bed, sleeping. Because I live on the West Coast, it was before 6am. I woke up in a panic, heart pounding. In the distance I could hear the street sweeper, and after my initial (irrational I thought) panic subsided I realized I had not moved my car.

I leaped out of bed. I didn't have my regular glasses with me, because at the time my eye doctor was encouraging me to use my computer glasses in my classroom during the day. They made everything slightly blurry. At the end of the day on the 10th I'd forgotten to change back. In my street sweeper panic, I couldn't even find my computer glasses on the table, so I grabbed my keys and ran out the front door, in my pajamas.

The panic was choking me again, and I couldn't get the car started at first, but finally, just as the street sweeper rounded the corner I lurched away from the curb and drove all the way down the street, in the semi-dark, without my glasses. I'm not sure how I managed to get turned around and get back to house to park on the other side of the street.

It was all for naught as it turned out, I got a ticket anyway.

Back in the house, I got back in bed and tried to analyze why I was so worked up over it. A street sweeping ticket at the time was about $30, but for some reason I felt like it was the end of the world.

My husband and I never watch TV in the morning. We get up, shower and dress, drink coffee while reading the newspaper, and then head to work. We work together, so he drives. We don't listen to the radio in the car either.

When we got to work, there was a regular sub standing out in front of the school. Our school is under the flight path for LAX, and he was looking up at the sky as we walked up. He said, "See, they're all heading back to the airport." We looked up, and there were some planes heading back. Confused, we said, "Why?" He told us that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center.

Hopefully you've never had to receive really bad news before, but if you have you know that at the moment when you first hear it you can't comprehend what someone has told you. For example, on the day of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, my boss came out of her office and said "The space shuttle blew up." I looked at her in confusion thinking she was telling me it "took off" and I couldn't quite comprehend what she was telling me.

This felt exactly the same. We went into the school building, and in the library there was a TV on. I was watching the screen as I walked in, and at that moment they were replaying the footage of the plane hitting the first tower. It was about 7:30am PST. I felt light headed.

Of course, we all had to go ahead and carry on with our day. I was teaching 3rd grade at the time, and my students didn't really understand what was going on. I remember the principal came around to each classroom. Most of us didn't like him, but I remember being touched that he took the time to come to each classroom like that. We had early dismissal as we always did on Tuesdays, and instead of making us stay for the staff meeting, he let us all go home.

I was wearing a new blouse that day, one I had received for my birthday the previous week. It was colorful, so I had on a collection of bead bracelets that matched the blouse. I usually try to wear those bracelets on 9/11, and I'll wear them today.

A few years later, I read the Gettysburg Address to my students, and this one section of it really struck me:

But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.

As always, on this day, I remember the victims in my heart, and say a silent prayer for their families. We will Never Forget.