Friday, September 11, 2009

September 11, 2009

Last night we received an auto phone call from our daughter's school that the student body and staff would be observing Patriot's Day on September 11th by wearing red, white, and blue. We laid out an outfit and carefully explained the importance of the day.

Our daughter is in first grade; she wasn't born yet on September 11, 2001. Like many five- to eighteen-year-olds in school today, she doesn't know about or remember the events of that day. She grows up in her present, which is our post-9/11 world. Now, we bear the responsibility of teaching our children about that day and its aftermath. The facts. The possibly whys. And, of course, our own interpretations.

One of the seniors at my school worked all summer on a memorial tribute to the people who died on September 11th. He ordered 3,000 flags and carefully handwrote each victim's name, age, and place of passing on a tag attached to every one. With the assistance of his family and a group of friends, he placed the flags on a hill in our quad, in gridded sections representing the Twin Towers.

At the end of our first class period, this student read a speech he wrote about September 11 and its significance for him and for all of us. He noted that our freshmen were first graders--my daughter's age--in 2001. He reminded us that on that day, regardless of nation of origin, we were all Americans.

The principal invited everyone to gather on the quad for the pledge of allegiance, and firefighters from the station across the street joined us as students filed silently out of class and observed the ceremony.

I felt a chest-swelling connection to my fellow humans as our Navy Junior ROTC students paraded the colors down the hill between the two towers of flags. I was proud of the young man who conceived our school's tribute to September 11th, and that he recognized and seized this opportunity to teach his peers. I was proud of our students and their reverence for the moment and respect for one another.

While I vividly recall the difficulty of sorting my own emotions and of understanding others' after 9/11/01, this morning was uncomplicated: I was moved by the American flags at school and those in our city flying half mast. I felt comfort in the unity of Americans and citizens of other countries taking time today to honor the lives of our innocent victims.

Politics, partisanship, personal issues were absent. I felt part of something good.

1 comment:

Mama Deb said...

Wow. That is so incredibly mature for a high school student to do that. Must be a really special kid. Thanks for sharing.