Unwanted Anniversary

Unwanted Anniversary

September 11. I can’t hear the date without a small shiver and a flash of sadness. I want to be able to fully celebrate the day. It’s my mother-in-law’s birthday, and I love her! We absolutely do celebrate the day and find happiness. But the memory of September 11, 2001 stops me cold.

I was a young, second-year teacher. I had walked into the hall to run and make some copies for my class of juniors who were quietly reading a short story from Hawthorne. A fellow teacher, Pam, stopped me.

“Lydia, there’s been an attack on the World Trade Center.”

I froze. “OK,” I said.

“Don’t tell your students. We’re going to wait until there’s more information.”

Again, “OK.” Then, because of my naivete, “What is the World Trade Center?”

Pam explained, quickly, the significance of the buildings and a little about what she knew had happened. I panicked. My mother was on a flight home from Philadelphia that day. Would she be ok? Was her plane affected?

Back I walked into my classroom where I faced my juniors. They had zero clue, and I followed directions. Not a word about the attack left my mouth. The bell rang, and they left.

The hallways were abuzz with discussion. No one else had listened to the rule of keeping quiet. So my nineteen students were walking out into oblivion and chaos.

The rest of the day, I attempted a semblance of order. We read Ibsen and quickly checked Yahoo! on my one Internet-connected computer. My students took a few minutes to talk and digest before I pulled them back to The Doll’s House and our reality.

Except it wasn’t reality.

Reality was fear outside of that school. Outside of our rural town.

That night, I went to dinner at the local pizza shop where the TV ran images and video almost non-stop. My stomach couldn’t relax.

Would they come here?

Every noise I heard outside had me nervous, and — not exaggerating — I was certain I would find “bad guys” in my bushes at night.

This many years later, I cringe when anyone who was either too young to remember or who wasn’t born yet declares the anniversary of September 11th to be unimportant. I will never, ever forget.

Unwanted Anniversary

On a day like any other
amidst school bells
Nathaniel Hawthorne stories
Juniors learning what it meant to write
like an American

Our world came crumbling down
in two large ways and
countless others


“What does this mean?”
“How do I tell them?”

19 faces look back at me
curious about the next task
clueless as to what awaited them
outside the 4 safe walls of
my classroom

Later, we searched for
found little except

Prayers and tears
streamed from all corners of the

Banding together
an anniversary we didn’t want


Here we are.

Children who know nothing of that kind of
We want them shielded
never to know
that their world shattered
before they entered it.

We teach them.
Never forget.

american flag with WTC

My blogging friends and I linked up today using the theme of anniversaries. Let’s see what everyone else chose to write about:

September Twelfth by Karen of Baking in a Tornado

Another Year Has Passed by Dawn of Cognitive Script

Times Twenty by Diane of On the Border

Ten Years of a Lifetime by Sarah of My Brand of Crazy

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4 thoughts on “Unwanted Anniversary”

  1. It’s not too much to say our entire world changed that day. The innocence of pre-9/11 and the fear and uncertainty of post 9/11. I think it must have been much the same as the innocence of pre-WW2 and post-WW2. And just as devastating.

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