Thursday, September 11, 2008

the Pledge, Blue Yonder style

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.

That's America.

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.


robin bird said...

yours is the first place i have visited that has chosen to remember the date 'out loud'. this is a very inspirational post and you don't have to be seven or eight years old to let it be a comfort. thank you for this relyn. your sweet second graders might just remember this day next year.

Christina said...

What beautiful words... I am teary eyed but feel incredibly blessed to have visited your blog today.

tangobaby said...


You are exactly the kind of teacher that these children will remember 40 years from now. The way you take care of so many minds and hearts is just as wonderful and brave as those firemen and rescue workers. You help to create compassionate and wonderful people. Bless you for that.


Teal Chic said...

That was a wonderful way to tell the kids. I wouldn't know how to tell them. I still remember that frightening day like it was yesterday. I just thought of the priest, who had gone in to save people too, and ended up dying. There were so many heroes that day!

karey m. said...

now this is lovely...tango is exactly right...

and if those kids don't remember you, their parents surely will!

dutchbaby said...

Your second graders, and we, are blessed to have a teacher who understands exactly how to learn from even the saddest moments in our lives. Thank you for a great perspective.

Ragamuffin Gal said...

I found myself tearing up as I read this post ~ Beautifully writtened and shared. I read my children the book September 12th, but I wish I had told them like you did what it really means to us who lived through it. I was there with you ~ same school, same first year of teaching there and met Anita in the hall and she mouthed the words to me (she had kids with her) and I ran to the Library and watched in disbelief with other teachers ontheir breaks what was so unbelievable. I will never forget. Love you, Katie

My Castle in Spain said...

Dear Relyn,

i'm so sure these kids will always remember your words. They're really lucky to have you as a teacher. You are indeed very special. Teaching can be so difficult (my elder sister is a teacher at high school). I just admire the fact that you love your job and as i said surely your pupils will always remember you..

a big hug to you

Jaime said...

What can I say here that hasn't already been expressed by your wonderful readers?
You have a heart of gold, and are such a gift to these children. To be able to speak so sensitively to them and to find the beauty in something so horrible.
Love you

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