Today I am tweaking the post I wrote for 9/11 last year.
Where were you eight years ago today? I was in a classroom with 38 second graders. An announcement came on the intercom to pray for survivors of a plane crash into the World Trade Center, and to pray for the dead. We were told we could turn on the television machine to see the news coverage. I declined. I felt eight year olds did not need to see carnage and the reaction to it. About 20 minutes later, someone from the office came to my door to tell me there was a second hit. Until then, I had naively believed it was an accident. I chose not to tell my students. Eventually the news that the Pentagon was hit reached me. And then the news of the courageous passengers who brought there own plane down when they realized what the hijackers were planning. I still did not tell my students, though I did pray with them for the dead, for the survivors of "today's tragedy", and for the rescue workers who were trying to save them. I couldn't protect them from fear for long, but I feeling what I was for a little while. Many parents came to get their children early. Many did not. The ones who stayed thought it was strange that so many students were being dismissed early, but did not correlate that fact with the crash at 9:00 that morning.
The next day they asked me why I did not tell them. I told them that I felt it would be less scary to hear this from the parents who loved them than from me. I did not tell them I was wondering if Chicago was a target, and that I didn't want them to think of that too. They accepted that I thought their parents should tell them. They were good kids. I hope that they remember me as a good teacher.
When they are asked one day "Where were you when the planes crashed into the World Trade Center and Pentagon?", they will say learning to read. I am not sure what they'll think of having to give that answer. But all I wanted to do was protect them, and I felt the only thing I could truly protect them from was fear.
Do you remember driving home from work that day? How polite everyone was on the road, because they suddenly discovered life is fragile? Do you remember hugging your loved ones that day when you came home, how sweet that hug was because you were afraid you'd never hug them again?
For many people that day, there were no more hugs.
Pope John Paul II offered this prayer for our nation.
I don't know anyone personally who died that day. September 11 is designated as "Patriot Day" in this country now. I would like it to be a day when everyone prays for fire fighters and rescue workers. I know their families pray for them daily, but those of us who don't have friends or family doing this forget to, except of course when hearing of tragedies or emergencies. I wish that this day would be a day to pray a simple prayer for them and their families. I am no David, so please forgive my meager attempt.
Thank you for the gift of selfless people who work as firefighters and rescue workers. Many of them sacrifice their lives for the good of the public. Many of their family members worry for their safety daily. I pray that you keep them safe and well, and that you comfort their families in times of anxiety. Hold them close to you as they save and rescue. Hold the people they serve close to you. Please don't let their lives end before knowing you. Please don't let them die while they serve us. Please reward them in this life and the next for their courage and selflessness.
I ask this through Jesus Christ, your Son.