This morning as we talked about the date in my little third grade math group, I tried to explain the significance of September 11. The principal had called for a special moment of silence to commemorate the tragedy and the kids didn't really understand. As we talked, one girl piped up and said 2001 was the year she was born. The others all realized they were tiny babies when the attack occurred. Their main concern was whether any planes would crash into our school, so we talked that one through.
I remember that I was administering a state-wide achievement test to another group of third graders that morning. When we stopped for a rest break, the maintenance man told me that a plane had hit a building in New York City. I immediately thought of a story I had read about a small plane hitting the Empire State Building back in the '40's. But, when we broke again an hour or so later, he told me that another plane had hit the other tower, and I realized that something dreadful was happening.
It was like that all morning. Testing, taking a break, and finding out another piece of the horrible news. By lunch time some parents were coming to school to take their children home. Everyone was terribly worried, but we went on with our day in order to keep the students from becoming scared. Hearing about the events in disconnected bits over the course of the day was very hard--it wasn't until I got home that afternoon and I was able to watch the news for myself that the enormity of what had happened hit me.
We found out later that the brother of a colleague of ours had been in one of the planes that hit the Trade Center.
Today my thoughts go out to her and to the others who lost loved ones in that vicious attack.