I was thinking about how we remember where we were and what we were doing when we hear momentous news.  I thought of the following occasions of national news:

On September 11, 2001, I had the radio on as I drove to school.  There was a news report of smoke billowing out of the World Trade Center.  I arrived at school and when I checked my mailbox in the office, there was a group of teachers around the television – and we watched as a second plane hit the World Trade Center.  I remember thinking “That’s no accident.” Obviously.  Our principal told us to keep the news to ourselves, and later we received email from our Director of Schools to let elementary students wait till they got home to talk about the situation with their parents.  We could answer questions matter-of-factly, but without sounding alarmed.  Junior high and high school teachers could discuss it with their students.  During every single break, teachers were huddled around the TV to learn more about what was going on.  At the time I was dating a National Guardsman, and I kept emailing him all morning for more news.  For the most part, the school day at my elementary school went on as usual from the students’ perspective.  I’ll always remember the sick feeling in the pit of my stomach as I learned more about what happened.  Some parents came to the school and picked up their children early.  I remember feeling a need to be with someone I loved when school was over.  But I was single, and the aforementioned guy I was dating wasn’t very emotionally available.  I called my son who was in college and talked with him briefly, I called my daughter who was busy with her 6-month old baby, and I think I called my mother, too.  Then I spent the rest of the evening alone.  It was a horrifying day.

On November 22, 1963 I was in a high school algebra class.  The intercom crackled on with a radio playing.  At first we laughed, thinking that someone in the office has hit the intercom button by mistake.  Soon, though, we heard what was being broadcast.  There was crying – and a few students became hysterical upon hearing the news that President John F. Kennedy had been shot.  I don’t recall much more of that day – other than being glued to the TV at home later that evening as we watched Lyndon Johnson take the oath of office, Jackie’s blood-stained dressed, and the replay of what had happened played over and over.

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