The Broad is Back!

September 11, 2008

9/11/08 Impressions and reflections

Filed under: 9/11,New Broads,students — by maggiec @ 4:09 pm

It’s 8:46 AM, Sept 11, 2008.  Seven years to the day, to the minute, since the first plane hit.  I’m blocks away, sitting at Borough of Manhattan Community College’s Murray St. building, a school that actually lost a building  in the attacks when WTC 7 collapsed the fateful afternoon.  The streets around here–Broadway, Warren, Church–are full of police and fire vehicles.  There will be a ceremony starting now.  I have to teach, or I’d be there.

Lots of American flags on people’s lapels on the way in.  Memories flood back. I was in Geneva, Switzerland in 2001.  Sick in bed with a sinus headache when I got the call a little after 3PM our time.  It was my mom, calling from Oregon.  She’d been watching the morning news when she got up that morning and saw the second plane as it happened.

The memories of the rest of that day are sharp, clear.  My 10 year old son was home from school that day as well.

This is my first 9/11 in NYC since it happened.  I just saw Ground Zero for the first time in July.  I couldn’t look.  I couldn’t go there.  I worked in this area for years.  I loved walking through the WTC grounds.  My dad helped build them.  And because my dad died when I was only 11, the WTC was a tangible tie to him.  I always felt a thrill of pride walking there.  My dad was part of this beautiful place.  My dad was part of NYC’s history.

Later, 9:37 AM

Sitting in class while my students do planned group work.  Heavy atmosphere.  Students are a little down, too, I think, but it’s hard to tell in here.  This is a tough sell class.

My heart hurts.  Too much pain around me.  I can only shield out so much, and since I’m feeling it myself it’s in there already.

Later, 5:00 PM

After my classes today I walked down to Ground Zero.  Stopped first at St. Peter’s Catholic Church on Church St.  NYC’s oldest Catholic church, it’s right around the corner from Ground Zero.  It used to sit in the Towers’ shadows.  There had been a ceremony there and a mass at 12:05, but I got there just as mass was getting out.  I went in to pray and light a candle for all souls lost that day and a world that was changed that day.  There were still many officers there in full dress, but there were also two K9 officers there with sniffer dogs.  A sad reality, but I hated to see sniffer dogs in a church.  I cried then.  It seemed like a rational response at the time.

Took some pictures, walked around.  Lots of people, quiet, respectful, police and soldiers in dress uniforms.  Firemen remembering their dead.  Shrines, conspiracy theorists, tourists.  But it wasn’t like a carnival, something I was afraid would happen.

During my second class today, alarms started sounding out on the street and students and I panicked momentarily.  Any other day we would have ignored it.

Stories came out–where we were that day.  Memories, sadness.  Goosebumps.  But we shared love.  Sounds silly, but I loved them so much, sharing with me.  Remembering the students I was with on Sept 12.  I still remember them all–the shocked and frightened American exchange students, the terrified Saudi students, afraid of retribution, the traumatized Serbian, Albanian and Middle Eastern students who had literally lived through wars during their childhood.  The frightened Europeans, sure that WWIII was going to break out.  We loved each other and made it through.

Love is the answer.  Cliche, I know.  Hackneyed even.  But it’s true.  Seven years later, the response in my classroom was love–maybe not for the terrorists, but for one another, for our families, for our city.  And that helps the hurt go away.


1 Comment »

  1. […] up teaching in a building that had actually been damaged that day. I just reread what I wrote that first 9/11 back in NYC. It’s so disjointed. So emotional. Not my usual style, at […]

    Pingback by The Anniversary | A Broad Abroad Again — September 11, 2014 @ 2:50 am |Reply

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