Today is a sad day.
It is triumphant, too.
This morning I found myself standing in front of a class full of tiny faces and crying as I held my hand over my heart and squeaked out the Pledge of Allegiance. Such sweet, smiling faces that carried no shadow of that sad day seven years ago. Children who were, at most, one year old on September 11, 2001. Children with no memory of towers and planes in flames while a nation's heart broke.
In my class of 17 second graders, only one even knew the significance of today. And she wore red, white, and blue. Our principal asked us to observe a moment of silence for all those affected by 9/11. We did. And then I turned to face my class full of curious and confused faces. Thinking... How do I explain something so important? So terrible? And to children so young? Children whose parents had not chosen to tell them?
This is what I said.
On this day seven years ago I was about 15 minutes into the fifth day of my first year of teaching. I had just dropped my students off at art class when I heard some terrible news. Our country had been attacked and people were suffering, scared, dying. A lot of sad, scary things happened that day. A lot of people died. But, you know what? A whole lot of really wonderful things happened that day, too. Men and women rushed into danger to help other people. Firemen ran into burning buildings they knew they might never escape, because they had a chance to help someone else. Policemen who had families they loved gave up their lives to help. Regular people like your mom or dad risked their own lives to help strangers. So, yes. The grownups around you are sad when they think about that day seven years ago. But, we also have a lot of reasons to be very, very proud. Reasons like bravery. Self-sacrifice. Love for our neighbors. Courage.
The perfect photo above was taken by Stefani at Blue Yonder. If you don't know Stefani and the Blue Yonder Boys, please, go visit her right now.