the torch you carry

Today is the tenth year to pause and reflect on the tragedies of nine eleven.
It is a big day,
perhaps a quiet day,
perhaps a day to count blessings.

I am remembering the day it happened, going to school early for a meeting that was on my schedule with another faculty member. I had heard about the first plane when still home getting dressed; I heard about the second plane while sitting in the faculty meeting before school even started. Stunned.

We still had school that day. We didn't really know the magnitude of it all til a bit later, so we just still had school.

I was with my Young Fives class. When families started arriving, there was this 'upper level' conversation among adults with bewildered looks in the eyes and unsettled shoulder shrugs trying to communicate above the children "what just happened?" ...  as in:
WHAT just happened? 
what JUST happened? 
what just HAPPENED?

We mostly had a regular day at school. Yet, at our morning meeting (circle time) with the students, I decided that we had to have an open chat to see what they knew, what they saw on tv, what they were thinking as they surely overheard their guardians speak of some NEWS.
We had a conversation.
We had honest information shared among 5-year-olds.
We made a prayer poster.

This is a copy of what I wrote in our newsletter that week, sharing with families what happened during our morning meeting with their children. The school is a religious-based school so God and prayers are integral for coping, offering support and seeking strength. The text:

"I have tried to speak to each family over the last number of days as we all deal with the tragic events of Tuesday, September, 11. Most of you know that we had a discussion in class that very morning. I wanted to know what the children knew so far and how they were understanding any of it.
Know that my intent in opening a discussion is never to lecture or inform on specifics, but to provide an arena for a young age group to talk together about something they may be trying to understand in their own way.
The sharing was diverse, with different energy from different children, with different pieces of the morning News: "bad guys flew a plane into a building!" "there was smoke and lots of fire!"
We talked about how it WAS bad guys who flew into the big worker buildings in New York, how it was NOT an accident, how it is a big problem and that the fire people and police and the President are working to help solve it. We looked on the globe to see New York and to see California. We talked about how we are safe here [at school] and in our houses.
And then, we really talked about how the people in the worker buildings got hurt and a lot of them probably died, how we could think good thoughts for them and say prayers together. We talked about making art to help have good wishes for anyone who was hurt and we thought about drawing [cheerful ideas like] rainbows, flowers and hearts. We displayed the poster on the blue wall in the block area. Please, come see."  [to note: the poster remained displayed in the classroom until I left the school in 2007].
The students from this class are 15 years old now. They likely do not recall the actual day of the event or our conversation in class or anything. They probably have a newer, current memory made perhaps in an upper elementary grade when studying history; or via a thoughtful discussion with family; or via a course in high school.

But, the children WERE there, in the moment, and had emotions and opinions and prayers.

For today, I offer a memory of the tragic day that included young children with kind hearts and sincere worry for people they didn't know and for a world they didn't comprehend yet.

I hope you have important discussions with your young students - in the moment that they are important - as the memory ends up being the torch you carry for them & for yourself.

This is the irony of this blog based in reflections and narratives: my personal story of this huge historic tragic event is lodged with my experience with these 5-year-old students and the poster of rainbows, neither of which exist any longer.
Yet, I remain the storyteller, to carry the torch, to be their memory.


  1. I happened upon your blog through the connective internet universe- so happy to be able to learn from you from afar. Blessings, Marisa

  2. @msstill - thanks for finding me :) I replied on your blog and now follow via google reader! cheers.


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