Everyone has a story about 9/11. This is mine:
I was in my 4th grade classroom in southern Maryland. I worked in a small rural school. The staff took turns relieving each other so that we could go to the faculty lounge to watch some of the coverage. I happened to be in the lounge when the second tower fell.
After we heard about the other two planes and that the Pentagon was hit, the entire county, including the schools, went into complete lockdown. We were about 60 miles south of the Pentagon but we were in a vulnerable position. We were surrounded by potential terrorist targets: the Patuxant River Naval Air Station, the Naval Warfare Center and a nuclear power plant.
Parents came by to pick up their kids but there were a couple dozen who weren’t yet picked up so staff members were asked to volunteer to stay to look after them. Many parents worked in D.C., where as you could imagine, there was complete gridlock. I ended up staying with a few others, feeding and entertaining them into the evening. We didn't tell any students what had happened, leaving that for the parents to handle as they saw fit. We couldn’t show our fears or show them our emotions. The uncertainty of not knowing if we were close to potential targets was terrifying. The power plant tested their warning system repeatedly, so unless you were listening to local radio - well, you could imagine.
School would never be the same. “Hiding drills” became even more common (they began after Columbine), and security was more intense.
Those elementary kids became the first generation to not remember what life before that day was like.
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