Julie Kirchner

I was at school, but kids had not arrived. A colleague came into my room and said, “Turn the TV on. A plane hit one of the twin towers.” As we watched the smoke and flames and listened to the guesses as to how it happened, we watched the second plane hit. We turned to each other with realization and tears in our eyes. The students started showing up about 30 minutes later. Many knew something was going on. Our principal told us to keep the TVs turned off. We couldn’t wait for prep and lunch to be able to get updates. We whispered what we knew in the hallways. We took the kids out for recess and looked to the blue skies that were eerily quiet. As soon as school was over, I called my parents. I asked, “Is this how it felt during Pearl Harbor?” I took a long walk with a friend and talked about what happens now. We had no answers. We worried about war. We worried about more attacks. I don’t remember much about the next few days other than not being able to tear myself away from the news. I do recall more flags flying, more emphasis on saying the pledge of allegiance, and more patriotism than I had ever seen. I was in charge of the school news and we made a video afterward that was very cathartic. That day, 9/11, was an awakening to me. The personal stories and walls of photos of missing people, the last phone calls and the phone messages crushed me. I had been alone for several years after a challenging divorce and it made me wonder, if I was making a call to my loved ones because I knew my life was ending, who would I call? I didn’t have a good answer. I felt so alone in those moments after 9/11. It made me want to be vulnerable again and to learn to love again. I didn’t want to go through anything like this again…alone.

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