I was, at that time, the orchestra director for I.S. 96. We then had the largest I.S. string program in the city. We were scheduled to play at the Dial-a-Teacher event at the Sheraton on October 20. All trips were cancelled following 9/11. Somehow, inexplicably, we were given a bus and on a crisp October Saturday morning headed for Manhattan.
As we approached the Manhattan Bridge the bus was stopped by a group of soldiers with rifles. The students were sobered by this, and became very quiet. After a brief inspection we were allowed on to the bridge.
We started slowly over the Manhattan Bridge. All eyes were on the still smoldering ruins of the Towers. From the back of the bus I heard a lone voice begin to sing the Star Spangled Banner. That voice was joined by another, and another until the whole bus resounded with the singing of the national anthem. These were students of every hue, whose families came from every part of the globe. At that moment they were all Americans. It was truly inspiring.
I felt proud and privileged to be with them. I know that none of us will ever forget those few minutes on the bridge.