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Nancy S. Wahl

September 11, 2001 marked my third day of teaching in a public school. In the beginning days of school, there were many announcements being made over the intercom reminding teachers to begin their lessons, to bring down attendance, and to say goodbye to parents who were still lingering; each announcement was more distracting for me than the previous, none of which I heard because I was battling with my kindergartners for quiet. So when the school secretary came into my room at 9:15 to see if I wanted to call my family, I was, of course, confused. "Why? Did something happen?"

"Aren't you listening to the announcements?"

I wasn't.

"A plane has hit the World Trade Center."

Frozen in disbelief, I was certain Alice was mistaken, that she had just heard incorrectly. Instead she insisted that it was true and asked me if I'd like to go to the corner of our street to see for myself. Our corner gave way to a once perfect view of the majestic buildings.

So I left my classroom with another teacher to see for myself that the buildings were, in fact, aflame. They were. And I called my family.

In the hour that followed, students were dismissed one-by-one with their moms and dads and caregivers, until that last child fell prey to the days that lay ahead, days that they would likely not understand nor would they soon forget.

Later that morning, I returned to the corner to see what had transpired outside my confusing world at 116 West 11th Street. There, I saw hundreds of New Yorkers lined up to give blood at St. Vincent's Hospital. And I saw parents, children and passers-by standing tearful and motionless.

The Twin Towers were gone.