Saturday, September 12, 2009

September 12


If you are teenager or older, you can tell anyone who asks exactly where you were eight years ago yesterday. It's one of those moments that has passed into history in the same way that we remember Kennedy's assassination, the space shuttles, the moon landing... We all know exactly where we were when the towers fell.

I wrote about 9/11 last year, and I don't think I can say it any better now. Instead, I want to write about September 12. You see, we all remember 9/11. We mourn. We cry. We say the Pledge. We lower our flags to half mast. We feel sad and vaguely lost all day long. And all of that is as it should be.

And then we wake up on September 12 and we do what needs doing. Just like we all did eight years ago. This year we talked about 9/11 and then I read an amazing book to my class. It was written by a class of first graders, and it's called September 12th. The book says this:
September 12th was a new day. We knew everything would be all right. because...
the sun came up and
the birds started to sing again.
We knew everything would be all right because we had homework.
2+2 still added up to 4.

We knew we would be all right because our parents said they loved us.
Isn't that the truth? Here's what I told my students this year:

We've talked already about what happened eight years ago. We've talked about the heroes, we've talked about courage. We've talked about how important it is to be the kind of person who is willing to do what is right, no matter what it costs you. You know all those things. But, before we are finished, I want to talk to you about September 12. That's a very important date in American history, too.

You see, that was the day that we all knew everything was going to be alright. And, here's how we knew.
On September 12, firefighters and police officers all over the country went back to work, still ready to face a burning building. Doctors and nurses and ambulance drivers, some of whom hadn't slept yet, all showed up for work. Ready to help. Mommas and Daddies woke up, made breakfast, got their children dressed, took them to school, and went to their own jobs. On September 12, teachers all over the country met their students at the classroom door with a smile. Ministers went to visit people who were sick and hurting and confused. Friends called each other, made play dates, spent time together. People laughed and cried and hugged and ate dinner. Just lived. Like we always have. Like we always do.

If you want to know what a hero is, I'll tell you. A hero is a person who does what needs doing, no matter what. But, a hero is also a person who lives through something terrible and gets back up the next day and does what needs doing. Even if what needs doing is as boring as cooking dinner or doing the laundry. Heroes aren't only people who run into a burning building. Heroes are people like you. And me. And your parents. People who wake up every day and say, "I'm going to do the best I can with whatever comes my way. I'm going to do what needs doing. If it is homework, or chores, or grading papers. And then tomorrow, I'm going to do it all again."
Happy September 12, my friends. God bless us all.


The image above is a first grade illustration from the book September 12.
Update: 11:40 a.m.: I had to come back and tell you this. My daughter saw the book September 12 and said, "Hey we read that. Momma, how come everybody thinks a hero has to be a person who does something like saving a life? That's not right."
"What do you mean that's not right, Sloane? Tell me what you think it takes to be a hero."
"Everybody can be a hero, Momma. All it takes is to help somebody. It can be something like when you see someone fall down and you go and help them up."
That gave me delighted shivers, let me tell you. We hadn't talked about this subject before. Ever. Sloane just knew it. Do you want to know who my hero is? Well, Sloane is one of them. For sure.

39 comments:

Lubna said...

Dear Relyn,
These are wise words indeed. I am so glad you shared them with your entire class.

Debbie said...

Well said!

Jeanne said...

Love all you share
Love and hugs and prayers for our world and everyone in it♥

smith kaich jones said...

You are good. This is wonderful, and so true. Thank you!

:) Debi

Maithri said...

You are my hero

Derrick said...

Hi Relyn,

How important it is that in remembering the tragedy we also need to remember that life goes on.

Gigi said...

Beautifully, beautifully said. Your students are so lucky to have you for their teacher. I'm sure they know that now, but they will realize it even more in years to come.

Thank you so much for your comments on my giveaway and on my other recent posts. I can't tell you how much they meant to me. I really do think we MUST be long-lost cousins.

Hope you have a beautiful weekend.
Hugs,
Gigi

Kamana said...

very true. and what lovely words by the first graders.

elk said...

thank you for your never ending love and grace sprinkled on the children that are blessed to be in your class...!

Gayle said...

Beautiful. I am so glad I met you, Relyn!

Char said...

excellent point - a hero continues on, no matter what.

beth said...

AMEN.....oh relyn, this was written so perfectly...today you are my hero !!

Marilyn Miller said...

So well said. Thanks for giving me thought of what a true hero is and what happened on Sept. 12th. You are a hero.

Tracy said...

Relyn, this is simply beautiful...I love your flipside to the pain of 9/11--this is what we really need! The heart still breaks, and the mind still can't comprehend how such madness could have happened that day... We will never forget all those lost souls... Thanks for posting in different way and lifting our spirits. :o) Oh, and I must say thank you for the many lovely comments you left for me at my place--at both my blogs. Happy weekend to you & yours ((HUGS))

Dandy said...

~sniffle~

Reading this with Clair de Lune playing is just a recipe for a mess. A happy, grateful, inspired mess. I have never, ever thought about September 12th. I know I will never look past it again.

Mrs. E said...

Beautiful.

Sarah said...

I love this post Relyn, especially the part about your lovely daughter at the end. So beautiful. x

Ragamuffin Gal said...

Sweet and wonderful ~ but I think you already know that about Miss Sloane. Love you, kt

Elyse said...

hi relyn and sloane!

now i am reading your blog. this post is so moving, heartfelt and inspiring. you must be a wonderful teacher.

xo

Someone's Mom said...

Your are so right, and truthfully I think I was still in shock on that September 12th, I don't remember the day at all. I love what Sloane said, children are wise if we are willing to listen.

Gillian said...

This is so well written Relyn. Sloane is one perceptive child, too. xo

Elle Bee said...

Well written Relyn. Thank God for September 12.
Elle

suvarna mollerup said...

There are so many, many heroes in the world, thank you for this homage.
xo

Southern Drawl said...

Girl, you have got me crying. This post is priceless! Priceless, thank you!

spudballoo said...

So lovely...sloane's words are beautiful. You should be so so proud of her xxx

Funky Slug said...

Was it really 8 years ago.. Seems like only a couple.. Love what your daughter said.. so fitting.. :)

Elisa Day said...

I love this post! You writing is so beautiful. Thank you for you comments on my blog. You cant even imagine how glad they made me! Yes Nimbus is a lovely cat, he is my best friend. Yes I sell the christmas decorations I made.

Jessica said...

On September 12 it rained and rained in NY and it was beyond gloomy with clouds dropping elephant tears. I remember that very well. I did know that everything would be alright, though. A lovely book September 12th is--what a perfect message!

Jessica said...

Yes--I forgot to add: Sloane's words are wonderful. She's certainly your daughter and received your gift of seeing the world though lovely eyes.

Anairam said...

Yes, there are heroes all around us, we just have to recognise them. And know that we can also aspire to be heroes. Every day.

Alicia @ boylerpf said...

That was so precise and to think it was a group of first graders! They are right...there is always a tomorrow that we live for. Missed you and great to be back!
Alicia

TheChicGeek said...

Relyn, such a beautiful post and thank you for this reminder. I especially love this line, "If you want to know what a hero is, I'll tell you. A hero is a person who does what needs doing, no matter what. But, a hero is also a person who lives through something terrible and gets back up the next day and does what needs doing."

So very true! Thank you for this beautiful reminder.

Wishing you a beautiful and happy day!

PixieDust said...

YOU are my hero...

:-)

This was beautiful and so very true.

(((hugs))),
love,
me

margie said...

i know you are a good teacher. wise and good.

Jeanie said...

This is such a beautiful and compelling post, but perhaps the loveliest moment was Sloane's observations and conviction. She's beautiful.

It's always a hard day, but despite all the awfulness that came from this (and there has been a lot -- not just lives lost there, but in the war after), there was good, there was kindness, there was a realization of how people can help. Hereos. Indeed.

Pearl Maple said...

Fabulous post Relyn, you and your daughter is so right, sometimes all we have to do is the right thing, no matter how small, sometimes that makes all the difference.

Meri said...

You are the BESTEST teacher! Rock the school year, girl.

Jaime said...

I am with Maithri and Pixi Dust...You are my hero too!

I could hug you again.
xooxooxoooooooooxx

elizabeth said...

You are wise. And Sloane is wise. And you are both my heroes.

And now I am teary-eyed after reading this.

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