“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” – John 16.33 (NLT)
I had just begun teaching my very first year of high school. I was 24, and I looked like a senior. I taught freshmen English at a large, poor school; and thank God for His grace, I actually did a pretty good job. My freshmen were immature, silly and difficult (like almost all 14 year olds are), but they were also funny, sweet and helped me to overcome my own self-centeredness.
On Tuesday morning in between classes, a freshmen came tearing into my room to tell me an airplane had crashed into the World Trade Center. I looked at him, laughed and continued to prepare for class. However, this student persisted, saying that his history teacher was listening to it on the radio. Then, several other students came running into my class with the same story. All I could do was stare at them in disbelief.
The bell rang and the principal spoke to the entire school on the intercom. She explained what was happening and asked us to do our best to press on through the rest of our day. I don’t remember the rest of the day. My mind was overwhelmed with images of planes falling from the sky. I couldn’t have an emotional breakdown. I was young but responsible for over a hundred teens entering and leaving my class. I had to be strong for them during an unprecedented time of anguish, confusion and loss.
Where were you September 11, 2001?