I was reflecting on where I was 19 years ago today - in a classroom trying to help my middle school students deal with an unthinkable tragedy and danger to our way of life.
Every year after that I shared the story of that day with my students to make the point that our country has endured and survived challenges many times before by finding common ground and uniting to fight for our freedom, safety, and beliefs.
This is the first time I was not in a classroom on this day and more than ever I wish I was just long enough to discuss with my students where we now find ourselves. Divided. Angry. And most of all... fearful.
We fear opinions different than ours. We fear violence coming into our communities. We fear an invisible disease that has taken or imprisoned both young and old.
So many of us have succumbed to our fears. And that is not who we were or should be as a nation.
On 9/11/01 an 11-year-old boy asked me a question. "Ms. L, are the bad guys going to come for us? Are they going to crash a plane into our school?" I smiled and told him no. He was in a safe place where people will protect him.
I lied. I had no idea what would happen. But as teachers and parents, our job is to be strong and help our children through the tough times. Right now, teachers and parents all over the country are trying to do just that with no roadmap.
There was no roadmap for the founding of America, the American Revolution, the Civil War, World War II, 9/11, and more. But we did it... together.
I'm hearing parents already complaining about how kids going back to school is being handled. No doubt mistakes will be made by the decision-makers. But remember who your children/grandchildren were with on one of the darkest days in American history. They were in a classroom with their teachers.
Who put their own fears aside to calm frightened children? Who answered their questions? Who is now risking their personal safety to do their best to educate and provide a safe place for the children of this country?
Just like that day, I have no answers for how we can move forward today. But we have to figure it out... now. The voice of reason and peaceful compromise must rise above the negative, destructive noise and actions.
Nineteen years ago we turned a day of darkness into a celebration of the American spirit. We can do it again. I pray we find it in ourselves to make it happen so that our children can have the future they are entitled to.