Photo taken on my first trip to New York City, Summer 1998.
Ten years ago today, I sat in my foundations class as word spread through my high school that the Twin Towers in New York City had been attacked. Televisions were turned on, lesson plans were abandoned, and as a school we watched the coverage of the attacks for the remainder of the school day. I remember being terrified of the images flashing across the screen. Planes hitting, buildings falling, and lives being taken. For the first time in my life, I felt threatened and helpless.

It was hard for me, as a sixteen year old in Minnesota, to understand what was happening across the country. I knew that the events on that morning would forever change our country, but it was impossible for me to comprehend how the events of that day would also forever change the New York City community which I would one day call home. I watched from afar as the city came together to mourn those lost and begin to clean and rebuild lower Manhattan.

On the ten year anniversary of the attacks, it is still difficult for me to imagine and understand the events of that day. But, I have now lived in the neighborhood that was once covered in dust. I have seen the men and women of the fire and police departments who have dedicated their lives to helping our city be a better place. I am in love with someone who helped clean up the aftermath at Ground Zero. And I do understand that a community of millions, despite individual differences, can come together and help each other in a time of need. I am proud to be a part of that community. I am so proud to be a New Yorker.

As I prepare to talk to my second graders tomorrow about 9/11, none of whom were alive a decade ago, I think about what I want them to learn from the events of that day. I could teach them about the events of that September morning, the hatred between cultures, or the devastation of a country. I could talk to them about loss and how we cope with it. Or, I could try to explain how the United States is working to defend and protect our freedom every day. And I think all of those things are important lessons to learn. But, what I really want my children to understand is how a community of strangers came together on that day, and many days after, to support and help one another. I want them to know about the men and women who had a chance to save themselves, but instead chose to rescue others. I want them to admire the man in the red bandana, who in the last hour of his life decided to save 12 people from the 78th floor of the south tower at the expense of his own. I want them to understand that in a time of need, their community reached out to one another and offered love, support, and assistance in any way they could.

As I listened to the coverage from Ground Zero this morning, I heard countless messages from brothers, sisters, parents, and children to their lost loved ones. I know that many of those lives were sacrificed in their efforts to save others. I want my kids to know about that. Because, when I think about the amazing amount of love that our community gave to one another on this day ten years ago, I feel hopeful. And that hope trumps my fear.

Today, my thoughts are with all of those who lost their lives on 9/11, the heroes and survivors whose lives are forever changed, as well as all the service men and women who have sacrificed in the aftermath of this tragedy. Thank you for giving me hope.  


  1. This was such a wonderful post. I'm sure that whatever you say to your students tomorrow, they will learn the significance of that day, they'll learn about the heroes, and about how our country is stronger now.

  2. that was beautifully written. i had such a hard time putting feelings into words all i could do was write an account of the events of the day. yiur words spoke to my heart. thank you for writing them.

  3. i love what you want your 2nd graders to know. because it's true. this is what really matters. loved this post.

  4. I remember 9/11 as my 14th birthday. Even though I'm in New Zealand, and I little bit more removed than I would be if I'd been in the US, it's still shocking. 10 years later, at 24, I still don't think I really understand it.


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