9/11 Anniversary

In ten days we will remember the anniversary of 9/11. There will be many memorials and special services in memory of the wonderful people who were sadly taken from us. However, it is important as we remember those people with love and mixed emotions that we remember how lucky loved ones were to have had the time they had with them. It will always be better to celebrate memories of life than to mourn the loss of life. Children who never knew those ten years with a parent need to be given happy memories of their parents, grandparents, cousins, uncles, aunts, or friends.  What would be better than to compile a CD or video of they way your loved one lived.

I am reminded of my day on 9/11. I have always been protected by the Lord on days of tragedy. As a child I slept through the worse earthquake that Montana ever had and it was on my birthday. How did I sleep through it when no one else did. On 9/11 I overslept that morning. I was going through stress in my life at that time and had shut the alarm of in my sleep. I woke up looked at the clock and saw it was 8:00 am. I was late for work. I jumped into my clothes , washed quickly and flew out the door to school. I phoned the school as I headed out the door and said I was on my way.

I was driving down the road anxious about being late for work. I was never late for work. How could this happen? Suddenly on the car radio I heard the man say,”What a tragedy that was in New York.” Then no more was said. I had no idea what had happened.

When I arrived at school the school was empty. I had to find my students they were in another building. When I found my class over half were absent. I went back to my classroom and continued with classes for the morning. Lunch came quickly and I headed for the teacher’s lounge. During lunch a teacher sitting across from me said,”Wasn’t that horrible what happened in New York?”

Now I had enough of curiosity at this point and said would someone please tell what happened in New York I over slept this morning and don’t know. He replied,” It’s too awful to talk about. I can’t tell you.” With that my patience was gone I reached across the table and grabbed his tie and pulled him towards me. I said if you wanted to live through lunch tell me what happened.”

It got real quiet in the lounge. He replied,” Okay, Okay just let go.” I let go of him and composed myself as he told me about the towers being hit. I was numb from what was said. I apologized for over reacting and returned to my classroom.

Then I remembered hearing the radio in the car say “Nellis Air Force is on lock down and red alert.” I hadn’t thought about that at the time but now I knew what that meant. Sixty percent of our students were from Nellis Air Force. No wonder the school was so empty. No student from the base could leave. I finished the day sadly and hurried home. Then I watched the news and sat and cried. I called both of my sons as quickly as I could reach them just to know they were safe. One was in Utah and the other in Idaho. They reassured me all was well.

However, my life would change forever. The next day at work we were given a gag order not to talk to students about the event. The base students didn’t come to school for several days. Gradually as students returned there were many questions and we couldn’t talk about it.

I was teaching special education in a middle school and found it impossible not to talk to my students. They were so scared. They looked to me for reassurance that they were safe. I had to follow the gag order and yet protect my students.

I looked at them and said, “As long as you are with me you will be safe.” If you are in another class and feel unsafe as the teacher to send you to me.” All the teachers knew to send a special ed student to me on request. That was all I could tell them. However, that was an answer that seemed to give them some confidence.

Then we began to deal with an emotional roller coaster as students found out parents would be deployed. They never knew when and it became very stressful to the children. Behaviors started appearing, grades dropping, and many days of difficult times.

I had to call one father and explain to me the difficulties that his son was having and ask him to spend some quality time with him before deployment to reassure him as he wasn’t handling it well. The father thanked me for calling as the last thing they want to worry about is having their family not handle their deployment. It’s better to deal with the problems before they leave.

Some families had both parents deploying and students were being relocated to other family members. There was a lot going on that people don’t realize if you aren’t around it.

Also many things were happening in Las Vegas at that time because of the terrorists. You never saw most of it on the news but you heard about it if you lived there.

My friend and I went to dinner one night at a buffet in one of the popular casinos. As we waited in line I realized we were the only ones that spoke English, as I listened during the twenty-minute wait I heard German, French, Chinese, Korean and several languages I wasn’t sure of. I looked at my friend and said,”What are we doing here.” She said, Why?” I asked her, haven’t you noticed no one else speaks English everyone that is out is a tourist. Should  be out or at home? That night we ate our dinner and not much was said. A night we would normally stay and enjoy we cut short and went home early.

I decided after that I no longer wanted to live in Las Vegas away from my family. My health was already failing and I missed my sons.

I would remain until December. However, when Christmas vacation came so did my son with a uhaul and he moved me back to Idaho. I miss friends and activities in Las  Vegas but the one thing that 9/11 taught me was time is short you need to spend it with those that are close to you.

I will never forget that day and what those young people went through watching the parents being deployed. Not knowing when , where, or for how long was torture for them. I had always respected the military growing up but after seeing the family side of it I learned a whole new side of it. Military families deserve all the support they can get from their communities.

I prayed everyday for the safe return of our military and I continue to pray for all military. I also pray that people will learn to find peace and accept each other for who they are.

We are at the worse time in the World’s History for unrest. 9/11 needs to be Designated as World Peace Day when everyone every where stops and prays for a better world. I know I will.


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