Unforgotten Past

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I pace to the front door to make sure I am there when the yellow school bus stops in front of my house. I open the door to greet my 8-year-old daughter who is beginning to adjust to the third grade.
“How was your day?” I ask with a smile.
“It was good. I have homework. Can you help me?”
I reassure my daughter that I would be glad to help her. I first offer her dinner. To my surprise, she declines, saying she is eager to start this assignment. My curiosity rises, and it is now I who is eager to see what this assignment is. My daughter takes out a folder, and opens it up. I see a copy of a newspaper article dated September 12, 2001.

My heart begins to race as I remember my own experience on that horrific day, September 11, 2001, as a young 8-year-old, coming home early on a yellow school bus. I recall the chaos that occurred. When recess time had arrived, we were told by the administration that we were not to be allowed to play outside. Instead, we gathered together to recite psalms. One by one, my classmates began to leave school early as their parents could come to pick them up. I remember sitting in my third grade classroom and moving at one point to the gymnasium. By the time we arrived at the gym, the number of students who were in my class lessened. I then remember being dismissed early with the remainder of the student body to the cafeteria; there, we were assigned to sit at tables set up alphabetically by last name. I was reunited with my older brother and sister. For safety reasons, one teacher was assigned to escort the children on each bus to be sure of a safe return home. I recall the excitement I, a naïve third grader felt as my favorite teacher came on my bus. She made sure I safely arrived at my home on that frightening day. I then remember seeing my mother, who greeted my siblings and me as we climbed off the yellow school bus.
“Mom, I just don’t understand. My teacher told us this is true. She even remembers this day. Her father was supposed to go to work at The World Trade Center that day; but she was home sick and he decided to stay home and care for her. They were watching the television together; their eyes were glued to the screen as they were amazed by the scene of airplanes recklessly crash into buildings. They were so sure it was a movie playing before their eyes. But it wasn’t a movie; it was reality. I just don’t understand. How can this happen?”
I look into my daughter’s eyes, eyes that have viewed the world innocently until now, and I sigh knowing my daughter had reached the point where she realized that evil existed beyond the fiction stories she had been read as child.





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