I was monitoring a study hall when the math teacher came in. "Someone's flown a plane into the World Trade Center." She was the Paul Revere of our school, letting everyone on the hallway know. Fifteen minutes later she came back again. "They've hit the second tower." We were all glued to the radio for the rest of the morning.
I had a class of juniors who listened, aghast at what had happened. They were old enough to somewhat comprehend the horror, enormity, and grave possibilities of the morning's events. Then I had a class of freshmen, and was amazed at the difference in comprehension and maturity levels. They didn't seem to grasp the seriousness of the situation nearly as much as the students just two years older. Some were even lighthearted and I had to make them see that this was not a joking matter.
We drove home that afternoon and looked up in the sky as we passed the airport. We live on an east coast flight route up from Atlanta and can often see planes overhead--I remember thinking how empty the skies were. We watched TV continuously for the rest of the day. I remember being very glad that Andrew's scout meeting was canceled for that night. I just wanted him close by with the rest of us, close by, the whole family together.
Two weeks later I was in Columbia for the state teachers' convention, and a group of teachers met in a hotel room to watch the president's speech to Congress. I remember him saying, "This war will be long and complicated. You will not know of many of the successes. You may not know what is going on or understand the decisions." I've thought of that many times when the press and the public severely criticize the Iraq war. I'm certain that much is going on that we do not understand.