Monday, November 20, 2017
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Video, Photos from Arlington County’s 9/11 Commemoration Ceremony

It's been 16 years since 9/11/01, and it's yet another beautiful, blue-skies, mid-September day, not at all unlike that fateful, terrible morning. I was...

The Days Burned into Our Memories

I taught English in high school for thirty-one years and loved every minute I was on the job. I still have dreams of being in the classroom, teaching. I was blessed with a chance to see kids achieve far more than anyone would have expected them to. Sadly, I also saw others throw away the best chance they would ever have to be prepared for the future. Many times I shared their happiness and sometimes I shared their sadness. Twice, we even shared communal sorrow and horror as tragedy unfolded on television before our eyes.

On September 11, 2001, I was seated at my desk a few minutes before my first class started. A student came in and said, "Something has happened in New York. May I turn on the television?" I gave him the O.K. The first tower of the World Trade Center had been hit by a plane. Not long after that, as the rest of the class filed in and took seats, we watched together as the another plane smashed into the second tower.

The rest of that day we spent seeing the unfolding drama of the most devastating single act of mass murder in the history of this nation. From the first, I refused to call al qaeda's evil act an act of war. No, it was a senseless, murderous crime against humanity by psychopaths. As we saw first one and then the other tower fall, horror compounded on horror. This heinous act murdered 2977 innocents in the towers and on the planes turned into weapons, while 411 first responders gave their lives in the line of duty that day desperately trying to save their fellow men and women.

Most of us remember exactly what we were doing and where we were when we heard news that changed the direction of our nation: the assassinations of President Kennedy, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Bobby Kennedy, and September 11. For me, the young people I shared September 11 with will always be an integral part of my memory of that event. And that's not the only such terrible time I shared with the kids I taught. There was another time...That other time was January 28, 1986.