If you ask one person where they were on 9/11/01, most of them can tell you right where they were at the very moment that the tragic accidents occurred. For me, I was meeting with the curriculum coordinator for the center and my class was outside playing on the playground with a floater who was giving me a break. We were discussing the changes and plans that needed to occur for the new four/five year old classroom that just opened when the phone rang. Now anyone that knows me knows that you don't call me at work unless it's an emergency so when I heard my husband's shaky voice on the other end of the line, I knew something was wrong. "A plane has hit the twin towers and I'm stuck on 85 with the traffic completely stopped. I'll call you back because I'm calling Clay," he said. You see my brother-in-law was in the navy and his brotherly love had kicked in.
With that came a whirl wind of excitement, parents calling to make sure that their children were safe or telling us that they would not be there until late because they could not leave work (many of our parents who worked in Charlotte were not allowed to leave their jobs) or just finding out what staff could work late. With the next phone call, came my husband letting me know that he was headed to the fire department for standby. We were both volunteer firefighters and never in a million years was I more worried for him then right then because I didn't know who or what could be coming our way. My next thought was what about my aunt and my uncle who were both police officers. Would they be ok? Would we get attacked next? Many of the people that I loved could be in harms way and I felt so helpless and that's hard for someone who would do everything for themselves instead of asking for help. I learned a lot about my self that day and about what this great nation with its wonderful patriots can endure.
So fast forward thirteen years, what does any of this have to do with now or the early childhood setting?
Many of us saw and heard about the wives and girlfriends of firefighters, police officers, military personal, workers in the Twin Towers or the patriots on the flight that crashed in PA which at the time of the tragic event were excepting a child. Have you seen those children since that time? Those children will be teenagers this year and facing some hard times in front of them. Where can they turn? Have we supported them enough? Have we supported their families enough? I know that they have had some great supporters but we need to contunie to support and remember them.
Then I think of my children that were on the playground that first 9/11 and where they are now. Those children are now in their late teens. One of those young men is a new rookie firefighter in Charlotte. Two others are currently finishing up their basic training in two different branches of the armed forces. Do they remember that day? Probably not but if they do, I hope they remember how as a teacher I tried my best to explain something that most adults could not comprend while trying to make them feel safe and to know that I always would be there to keep them comfortable and loved while in my care. That maybe why they still text or message me (yes I'm thankful they still care about me) and I will always feel that same way about them.
As parents, we can't shield our children from everything and we should never feel that we have to. There are going to be moments like 9/11 that we will never have the words or the emotions to explain it to our children but we need to show our children how we are human and that all humans have things that shape their lives in a positive or negative ways. We just have to show them that we can make it through and hold each other's hands as we walk the path together.
May we never forget and may we always remember those that do so much for our freedoms whether they be in a branch of the service, protecting our boundaries, or serving as a "home town" hero such as our police officers, sheriffs deputies, firefighters, EMS service, and many more.....and always the teachers, whether in the early childhood setting or our children's first teachers, their parents.