New York: The 911 Memorial

On September 11, 2016, Leo Smith, Local Editor of the Orange County Register, wrote an article worth reading: https://www.ocregister.com/2016/09/11/visiting-the-911-memorial-in-new-york-is-an-emotional-trip-you-have-to-take/

On May 29, 2019, I felt emotions similar to Mr. Smith’s when I visited the 911 Memorial…. Memories of that day flooded over me. I was the Principal of a 4th through 8th grade combination elementary/middle school in a small town in Maryland on 911. My administrative assistant came into my office to tell me that a plane had hit one of the towers of the World Trade Center – it seemed at that moment to be a tragic accident. Soon she came in to tell me of the second plane. I went to the library to watch the coverage on TV and tried to make sense of the horrific scenes that were being shown. I believe the best three decisions I made that day for the 500+ students were to 1) ensure that all classroom TVs remained off; 2) place staff in the lobby to console parents who began streaming in, let them know that their children were safe and that TVs were off; and 3) most importantly, as Principal, personally go into each classroom to tell students a little bit of what was going on, that they were safe, and their parents would talk to them about it when they got home. I felt strongly that the staff needed to keep the day as normal as possible for the children and that each family should decide how much of the graphic TV coverage their child should watch. (I should note that the school’s elementary/middle school students did not have cell phones at that time.)

On 911, I felt instantly that life had changed in America – that we could never feel again that war only occurred on foreign soil. I wept for the dead and injured and their families and I wept for the trauma that would endure for the survivors. And I felt pride in the heroes who emerged that day and the site of the American flag raised at the site. America’s spirit continues to be tested as other tragedies have and will occur, but it will remain strong – of that I am sure.

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