Today is the anniversary of 9/11. 19 years have passed, and that day is still as fresh in my mind as if it had just happened.
It was Picture Day at my school, North Allegheny Intermediate High School. The kids were combed and clean and shiny as new pennies. I was wearing a soft yellow top with a gold necklace, a denim skirt, and penny loafers. The day was gorgeous - with a high blue sky and plenty of sunshine, with a perfect temperature and low humidity. I taught my first period class, and a very cordial study hall group was in my classroom for second period. It was my practice to turn on the class television set at precisely 9 am, so the kids who needed a current event could grab a headline. Shortly before 9 am, a teacher stopped by to tell me that a plane had crashed into one of the Twin Towers in New York. I knew in my heart that this was not an accident. i turned to the kids and asked them if they minded if I turned on the TV - making sure everyone was finished with their homework, as I always did. One young man asked for an extra minute to complete a math problem, then nodded to me to turn on the TV. It was almost 9:02, and when the television came on, my entire study hall saw the second plane hit the second tower.
We were stunned. They looked at the TV, then they looked at me. "What happened, Miss Rittman????" I said I did not know. We watched in silence until the bell rang at 9:10. I will be forever linked to that class, because we watched a mass murder of our fellow Americans in my classroom.
The school was a somber place to be that day. When we heard that another plane hit the Pentagon, and another went down in Shanksville, only 90 minutes from our location in Pennsylvania, no one understood how and why America had been attacked.
The days and weeks following 9/11, patriotism was at an all time high. Flags flew in front of so many homes; Americans proudly displayed patriotic garb and flag pins; Old Glory appeared on pillows and sheets and T shirts. The country was united in a way I had only heard about from my parents, who talked about the excitement surrounding the American victory at the end of World War II.People stayed home and watched their television sets every evening. People got to know their neighbors, and the nation learned about the heroes who did what they could to save others. All Americans were humbled by the displays of heroism we read and heard about, and we were proud to be a part of such an extraordinary group of citizens called Americans.
Fast forward 19 years. Anarchists are attempting to take over our cities, and schools are teaching hate for our country. The police and first responders, hailed as the world's greatest heroes just 19 short years ago, are under attack, called names, and victims of hate and prejudice. I am heartsick to see what America has become. Talk and negotiations are better tools toward chance than violence, I believe, but it seems I am somewhat alone in those thoughts. I recognize that some inequities need to be addressed, but I disagree with the methods of tearing down and destroying rather than discussing and building.
America is not perfect, but that is why it is so great to live here. We are constantly striving to make it better.
My wish for today is that everyone should take some time today and remember. Remember the heroes and the patriotism. Remember the indignation and grief that terrorists could and would do this to our fellow citizens. Remember that we are better when we work together than when we tear each other apart. 9/11 #NeverForget
Visit Dede's web page for complete details on her award-winning book, STUDENT TEACHING: THE INSIDE SCOOP FROM A MASTER TEACHER. Many colleges have made the book required reading. Signed copies are available www.dederittman.com Dede is also a national speaker on The Three C's for Classroom success: Confidence, communication, and Creativity; Avoiding Teacher burnout; and many other inspirational topics.
I LOVE writing. And I love writing children's books- my newest passion. Although it will be a ton of work, I am looking forward to selling my books. Since I was a secondary teacher, I know that I have much to learn about elementary students, and I will have to follow my own advice and be my genuine self. However, I also know that I am passionate about helping kids who have to wear glasses, and that GRADY GETS GLASSES sends a positive message. I am willing to work hard and do all the things that also made me a successful teacher for 37 years. I remain inspired!
Teacher friends- let me know if you want me to read GRADY GETS GLASSES at your school. I am willing to come in to discuss the creative writing process, why writing is important, and personal fulfillment through writing, along with reading my book. I would appreciate the exposure, and I would make signed copies available for purchase in your classrooms following the reading. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org The website www.gradygetsglasses.com now has plush Grady bunnies for sale!
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