The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Where Was I? Where Were YOU?

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 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.   


  1. You are so right, Sioux. That moment is indelibly inked into my brain---the shock, the horror, and finally the realization that this was not an accident but a premeditated act. It seems incredible that a full decade has passed.

  2. I cannot imagine having to deal with that day as a classroom teacher. At the same time, it heartens me to know that a group of 11-year-olds had someone like you to lead them through some soul-searching discussions.

  3. I was at work. Management was annoyed that people were trying to listen to radios and not working like beavers.

  4. Sioux,
    It was a collective heartache, and it still hurts. Thank God for teachers like you.

  5. It's hard to believe it's been ten years. I agree with Linda's post--God bless you and all teachers.
    Donna V

  6. I agree with the above. While the rest of us were merely trying to get through it ourselves, you were worrying about getting entire classrooms filled with children through it. Thank you.

  7. I agree with the others, glad there were teachers like you.


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