By Jaime Gweshe
Image via Wikipedia
September 11, 2001; it is impossible to forget where you were that day.
Many of the students packed into the Burlington High auditorium on Friday morning were in their first and second grade classrooms when the horrific attacks on America happened.
Photographs of the plane crashing into the buildings and the chaos and grieving on the streets flashed on the screen in front of Burlington students, staff members, and first responders in attendance. The BHS select chorus as well as music instructor Mr. Middleton sang patriotic songs commemorating the tenth anniversary of September 11th.
Some in the audience had tears streaming down their faces, understandable sadness that comes from remembering how they felt ten years ago. Tears were fallen in remembrance of the death, pain, and destruction that the attacks caused. What evolved from the assembly were stories from students, teachers, and first responders talking about where they were and what the felt that day.
One of Burlington High’s English teachers, Ms. Coppola, was a junior in journalism class, when the attacks on September 11th occurred. “You just felt like everything stopped… I just remember standing there and there was no structure to anything. You just stood and stared at the screen and tried to make it seem like reality… You could certainly see people in the classroom start having that panic of, ‘do I have a parent there? Do I have family members in that area?”
“I was right here in Burlington High School teaching a class,” recalls Mr. Middleton. “my secretary came in when she heard on the radio what was happening. It was unreal at first; you couldn’t believe that this was really happening. I did have a brother in Pennsylvania, and they were talking about a plane and they didn’t know where it was going, the fourth plane. They didn’t know if it was going to crash somewhere so I called him to make sure he was ok. But after that, Mr. Lovell and I just had to swallow all the emotions and just teach the rest of the day. What else could we go? All we could do was wait until we could be home with our families. We just had to try and get the students to get through the day."
The gathering of students also created a chance to thank and appreciate the work that first responders do for our community, the men and women who put their lives on the line without hesitation to save someone else. Their act of daily heroism can never be thanked enough for.
One of those brave heroes is Burlington fire Lieutenant, Jim Sorenson.
“I was working for the fire department in an office in Boston," said Sorenson, "and one of the guys that we worked with got off the phone with his wife, she was an airline stewardess, but she wasn’t working, and she said ‘a plane just flew into the world trade center.’ He said, ‘it must have been a little plane’ and she said ‘no it was a bigger plane.’ So he hung up the phone and was telling us what he had hear, and everyone was saying how it couldn’t have been as bad as it was. Minutes after that, we were still discussing it, she called again and said ‘you’re not going to belive it but theres a second large plane hitting the world trade center.’ At that point, the whole office went quiet, because I was in Boston I worked right near the Boston World Trade Center, which is smaller, but it’s still a focal point of the city. Pretty much from that point forward, the day ended. Every one figured there was nothing to do besides going home and being with their family. I remember driving home, and just anyone you saw, knew what had happened and there was just a lot of people in their cars crying, people just emotionally upset and it was surreal. Then actually going home and seeing it on TV, and waiting for my kids to come home from school, it was just unbelievable. I just sat home and cried.”
Assemblies like this are important to a generation who was too young at the time of the most horrific terrorist attack the United States has ever seen. The biggest message the assembly was to remind the students and everyone in attendance was to never forget.
We must never forget.