|This is where I was ten years ago--at Griffith Elementary, in Ferguson, Missouri.|
Ten years ago, I was in a fifth grade classroom. The students had not arrived yet, but even though they would be arriving soon, I could not do any of my normal last-minute preparation work. I was frozen. Frozen in place, mouth gaping open, staring at the television screen.
Did I see the first tower topple in slow motion? Or was it my imagination...had my sorrow made things freeze in place momentarily in an attempt to allow my heart and mind to catch up with what my eyes were seeing? I clearly remember being amazed that--even though a plane had rammed into the tower--it remained standing. I thought, 'Well, it's awful for those people on the affected floors, but everyone else escaped harm.' I was amazed that the structural know-how of architects ensured that a skyscraper could withstand such an accident and remain upright and sturdy.
But all-too-soon, my amazement turned to overwhelming sorrow as the tower fell, and then the second one as well. And the horror continued...
As our class had discussions that day, that week, that month, we spoke of differences in people. We spoke of prejudices and stereotypes. All white people are not good. Some are murderers. All black people are not good. Some are criminals. All police officers are not honest. Some are dishonest. We spoke of different religions, and spoke of Muslims, and how one particular religion was not to blame...A particular group of individuals were to blame.
The teachers painted a huge flag on the playground, and signed their names. The vivid red and blue, the pure white...it was a simple way to express what we were feeling.
Of course, 11-year olds could not really comprehend the enormity of what happened, any more than they could grasp the concept of what slavery was truly like...In their mind, if they were enslaved, they would simply fight back against their owners and run away.
But for those of us old enough to understand, we all remember where we were ten years ago on this morning...And it's a memory we're unlikely to ever forget.