9/11 A Call for Bloggers
On September 11, 2001, I was teaching reading to my first graders. The speech instructor dropped off one of my students and asked if I'd heard about the plane flying into the World Trade Center. No, I hadn't. An accident? Apparently. Thus, I made it until lunch without thinking much of the incident. In the staff room, someone had pulled in a television. Thanks to grant money, we had cable and watched the images of the planes flying into the World Trade Center repeatedly. I didn't eat. I really did not say much. I distinctly remember hearing the beeping from the fireman's uniforms. It was a haunting sound. I didn't know what to tell the children. They were first graders. How would they react?

September 12, my children returned to me. There was no going forward with normal classroom activities. The principal made a long announcement and the children were silent. She prayed and got rather specific. It surprised me. Not that open displays of Christianity were all that uncommon in my district, but I did not take her for a believer. One cannot always judge on the outside, however. For one day, the politics of education were set aside. And we began a new tradition. Every morning after reciting the pledge, we sang a patriotic song. Usually the Star-Spangled Banner. Sometimes America the Beautiful.

My children could not process what had happened. They were afraid. Some were misinformed. I tried to rely on our routine to help ease their worries, but every question had to do with Islam, planes, and the World Trade Center. One of my girls told me at least 15 times that morning that they had just been to the WTC that summer. Someone else had friends in New York and she was certain they had died. Many had relatives in the military and they expected them to be called for duty. So I finally set aside my plans for the day. I got out some receipt paper that was part of our math routine and re-appropriated it for a community art project.

We started with images that were sticking in the children's minds about the attacks. They drew them out and their reactions. They drew pictures of children crying, airplanes crashing, burning and smoking builidings. We talked about them and shared with the class. Then they got a second strip of paper and drew images of what they liked about the United States. There were symbols of our nation such as the Statue of Liberty and pictures of children playing on the beach. We talked a lot about those, too.

Then we went out in the hall and carefully weaved together the images on the bulletin board. The caption to the side includes their handprints surrounding our caption, "Woven together with images of a terrible tragedy are images of great strength and courage..."

This September 11 marks the fifth anniversary of this event. 2,996 is looking for 2,996 bloggers to help memorialize the lives of the victims. Check their site for more information on how you can support the effort or possibly join it.

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