9/11 & Grandparents Day: Choices to Make

It’s National Grandparents Day.

It’s also the 15th anniversary of 9/11.

And both these days resonate for me.

On Sept. 11, 2001, I was teaching 8th grade Language Arts  in South Orange, NJ when the principal made a vague announcement over the PA system. Rumors started and I tried calling my husband, who worked in New York City, using the classroom telephone. He told me what happened based on what he knew.

Eventually we found out more, and were asked to gather information from our students about where their parents worked and who might be home to collect them. The school emptied and staff who lived locally, including me, stayed with the students who couldn’t leave on their own. I focused on the tasks and the ambiguity of the news—we didn’t have televisions in the classrooms. I knew something terrible had occurred and worried about my husband getting home that night. (He worked mid-town and stayed in the city that night but his firm lost three employees.)

When I arrived home, I quickly learned that my neighbor didn’t return. He was in  one of the towers. Neighbors mobilized with search teams and food brigades and later offered housing for relatives who came for his funeral. He left a wife and three children, all under 8 years old. We wallowed in grief for a young life lost too soon, for all the other lives, and for our nation.

In 2001, I was a mother of three school-aged children.

Now, in 2016, I’m a grandmother of seven. (#8 on the way).

Now I’m connected to the future in the most profound way and I worry about the world these children will inherit.

Teachers in classrooms across the country are grappling with ways to inform a new generation about 9/11. I hope they’re putting it in context, exploring the roots of terrorism yet sharing the values that make this country great: freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and human rights. I want my grandchildren to know tolerance for all and understand peace is a process not a quick fix. I want them to have empathy for those that have little and want them to be stewards of the earth and  all its people.

That future lies in our hands.


About cyclingrandma

I was a journalist (Danbury News-Times, Ct), before becoming a teacher, and continue to write for professional journals. I have written several study guides for Penguin Books and write for Education Update, a newspaper based in New York City. (www.educationupdate.com). I’ve interviewed many authors, college presidents, and scientists. I wrote “The Kentucky Derby’s Forgotten Jockeys” for Smithsonian Magazine's website, www.smithsonian.com. (April, 2009). Two essays have been published in book anthologies; one for Wisdom of Our Mothers, (Familia Books) and the other in “College Search and Parent Rescue: Essay for Parents by Parents of College-Going Students.” (St. Martin’s Press). I was a middle school Language Arts teacher for more than 10 years and have just completed a five year grant position under No Child Left Behind in Newark, NJ public schools. I have three children, two daughters-in law, and six grandchildren. I'm an avid cyclist, knitter, cook, and reader. I love theater, museums, and yoga.
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6 Responses to 9/11 & Grandparents Day: Choices to Make

  1. ksbeth says:

    yes, and i am in the same position and this is a great post –

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Very good. Amazing how a tragedy like 9/11 united the country and brought out the best in every individual. Amazing how much is forgotten and how selfish and polarizing people cn be.


  3. Drjcwash says:

    Reblogged this on A Family Doctor's Reflection and commented:
    As we remember 9/11, we do have to make sure our future is bright. A great post from Lisa Winkler.


  4. Lisa you are so right! It’s not just about teaching “tolerance,” it’s meaningless without empathy and compassion. And so much of that has to happen in the home in the first five years.


  5. So much has changed in 15 years, and sadly, so much of it seems wrong. Thanks for this post, Lisa, it really resonates.


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