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Fifteen years ago today, in the early working hours of the morning, I was working for a non-profit organization, busying myself with paperwork and probably sipping coffee. Word spread fast through the three floors of offices that something dreadful had just happened in New York. I and others on my floor rushed up the stairs to the third floor where the AV department and television was. Half the building crowded around that one television; we watched as the second hijacked plane hit the second tower. We watched as it crumbled to the ground, live there before our eyes. We watched as the events were told and retold, discovering then that we as a nation had been attacked by a foreign people on our own soil: the first time since the Revolutionary War.

I went to Ground Zero less than a week after the attack to assist in rescue work. The buildings were still smoldering then, smoke pluming into the air. Chaos reigned in the streets but the people who ran among them carried an air of nationalism about them: we were united. Probably not since the late 1700s had Americans banded together so collectively on one front; the age of the War on Terrorism had begun.

Never before had I seen so many flags flown from so many different perches: the back of pick up trucks, businesses, along an entire neighborhood row of homes. The flag had once again become a symbol of pride and patriotism, of justice and the power of a united people.

Last week my US History classes watched videos from that fateful day and discussed the details known all too well by those affected so intimately. This week those students participated in a photo shoot to remember those we lost on 9/11. Teaching history is like telling ancestral stories passed from one generation to the next. It is an honor to be called teacher, educator, storyteller.

‘Lest we forget.

 

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