Sunday, September 11, 2011

Reflections on the tenth anniversary

Ten years ago, I stood in my living room and cringed at the sight of the first plane hitting the tower. I thought, what an horrific accident. I felt terrible for the people on that plane, and for those in the World Trade Center building. I did not realize that the horror had only just begun.

I turned on my car radio on my way to work and listened intently to the reports. Then, I heard that another plane had made impact.

I arrived at school a few minutes later. No one was quite sure what was going on. Teachers were asking one another, "Did you hear about the plane crashes in NY?"
The gravity of the situation -America was under attack- was like a collective punch in the gut. We all felt winded, worried, and wounded.

My preschool classroom was in the lower level of an inner city middle school. What I remember most is the panicked teenaged boy in the hall who shouted at me, "America is at war!"

"Calm down," I said. "Don't jump to conclusions. Nobody knows for sure what's going on. This does not necessarily mean WAR."

I walked into my classroom, made phone calls to my family and then stood in stunned silence as my preschool students went about their school day, unaffected by the attacks. My aide was capable, so I left her in charge. I felt as though I HAD to do something patriotic to relieve the mounting tension in the middle school students, although I was not in charge of any of them. I came up with an idea. I did not consult the principal or counselor.

I cut red, white and blue construction paper into strips, the kind that kids use to make paper chains at Christmas. I visited each classroom. I passed out a strip to each student and asked them to write what they were feeling at the moment about the tragedy; any fears, any words, anything would be acceptable. Some asked if they should sign it.

"If you want to," I said.

I collected the strips and rolled them into loops, then I stapled them to the bulletin board in the cafeteria. I assembled more than two hundred of them into an American "feelings" flag. I read, "I am afraid." "I want to kick their asses." "Bomb them." "Why did this happen?" "What now?" "I want to go home."

At lunch I observed students searching for their piece of that flag. I listened to them read their words aloud, giving voice to fears and feelings, owning their emotions.

I don't know if my action did any good. It just felt good to do SOMETHING.

I mentioned to my husband a couple of years after 9/11 that I felt as if the color had drained from America. I first noticed it on highways and parking lots. Most new cars were gray, beige or white. Emotions ran the gamut, people were depressed; everyone seemed blah and every thing seemed bland.

Now, ten years later, I notice that there are so many red cars and trucks on the road. Color is returning to America. People are blue from being homeless, hungry, jobless and hopeless. The "haves" have more green, while the "have-nots" shrivel, their egos bruised, deep, purple. There is an underlying current that runs through the population as orange as a flame; fire rages in the gut of all who are suffering during this recession.

We're desperately missing the color yellow, sunshine yellow, happy face yellow.

"I'd like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony..." Remember that commercial where people of all colors, religions and ethnicities joined hands?

My plea to politicians at every level of government is, Please, do SOMETHING. Reach across the aisle, the great divide and extend a hand. Come to some agreement and shake on it. Do it for America.

God bless and comfort the heroes of 9/11, the families who lost loved ones and everyone affected by this senseless tragedy.


Southhamsdarling said...

Amen to that Linda. Beautiful post today. I pray for peace and that nothing like that will ever happen again. Thinking of all my American friends on this saddest of days.

Sioux Roslawski said...

I too hope that Americans can make the necessary compromises and do the long-overdue embracing.

This was a phenomenal post today, Linda.

Lisa Ricard Claro said...

Praying for peace and for God to bless Washington with wisdom.

Chatty Crone said...

We can never forget. Ever. sandie

Bookie said...

Well said, well written. Peace.

Elizabeth said...

What a wonderful way of allowing the children to take hold of their emotions on such a terrible day. x

Karen Lange said...

This anniversary has stirred many emotions for me too. I felt as though I was reliving the day, and much of the pain. I agree, our leaders need to reach across the aisle for the greater good. Thanks for sharing your heart.

Tammy said...

Beautiful post, Linda.

Lynn said...

I love what you did with the kids and those paper chains. You are so creative at a time when it was needed the most!

Julia Gordon-Bramer said...

I never thought of the colors in our country this way. That's very cool, Linda. What an observation!

I love that you immediately went to the place of getting real with feelings, and accepting all the feelings children have without making judgments on them as good or bad.