I was a junior in high school when John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Whispered rumors about shots being fired at a presidential motorcade gave way to stunned disbelief as events unfolded. Our nation mourned its fallen leader; the world became a darker place.
I was teaching a 7th grade class in our old MS/HS library, when a social studies teacher asked if he could use one of the computers. He had heard something about a plane crash in New York City and wanted further information. Within minutes, we learned the terrible reality: our country was experiencing terrorist attacks of a previously unimagined magnitude.
Staff members in the elementary (K-6) wing were aware of what was happening, but younger students were shielded from the breaking news. The high school principal set up a TV in the hall outside his office, and another in the auditorium. Students and teachers could watch as much or as little as they chose. Many of us sat in shocked silence for the rest of the day, trying to comprehend exactly what was occurring and its implications for our families and our country.
Last year on September 11, I asked my Current Events class to reflect on the events of The Day Our World Changed Forever. After some discussion, a consensus was reached that "9/11 will make our world different for a long time."
Today, I spent a few moments at a local firehouse. Later in the morning, there would be a remembrance ceremony, honoring both rescuers and victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks. Occupying a place of honor were three rusted lengths of steel, portions of beams salvaged from the World Trade Center towers, destined to be incorporated in a memorial adjacent to the station.
These pieces of metal exert a powerful emotional influence, as reminders of what we have lost.
We can move forward, but we can't erase what has already happened.
Our world has changed forever.
Ridge Street Firehouse, Glens Falls, NY