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“Where was I on September 11, 2001 as the planes hit the towers?” This is a question many of us of a certain age revisit each year to mark this date.

I was in my car driving to school when the news broke. It seemed surreal like H. G. Wells’ War of the Worlds must have. When I got to school, I found a TV, and we watched it in the classroom. I asked the students, the parent of the day, and educational assistant if they had friends or relatives in the US. About 3/4 of the group raised their hands. Our family has roots in the US with relatives and friends living there. Both my post-graduate degrees are from American schools and we spend a considerable amount of time in the US.

The play Come From Away is about people in Newfoundland opening homes and lives to over 7000 people who were on diverted flights.

On September 10, 2001, who would have thought it would happen the following day? Who could predict the consequences of the act of a handful of men that day and the lasting impact on lives? But, it did impact us in a 6 degrees of separation way. I did not know anyone in the planes or towers, but I know at least two others who knew someone on the flights. In today’s world,  interconnectedness is real and vivid.

Emblazoned in infamy,

Seared into minds–

Surreal and nightmarish.

Senseless and tragic,

Touching one–

Touching all.

Sharing grief,

Never fully healing–

Holding memories.

Loved ones gone,

Never forgotten–

Shedding tears.

In recent days, we have a Blues channel on to listen to music. Today, I heard this song by Bonnie Raitt and it touched me on this day. We missed seeing her several years ago as the tickets sold out before I got there.

The song raises a question for me: “How can learn we are more alike as humans than different?”


About ivonprefontaine

In keeping with bell hooks and Noam Chomsky, I consider myself a public and dissident intellectual. Part of my work is to move beyond (transcend) institutional dogmas that bind me to defend freedom, raising my voice to be heard on behalf of those who seek equity and justice in all their forms. I completed my PhD in Philosophy of Leadership Studies at Gonzaga University, Spokane, WA. My dissertation and research was how teachers experience becoming teachers and their role as leaders. I focus on leading, communicating, and innovating in organizations. This includes mindfuful servant-leadership, World Cafe events, Appreciative Inquiry, and expressing one's self through creativity. I offer retreats, workshops, and presentations that can be tailored to your organzations specific needs. I published peer reviewed articles about schools as learning organizations, currere as an ethical pursuit, and hope as an essential element of adult eductaion. I published three poems and am currently preparing my poetry to publish as an anthology of poetry. I present on mindful leadership, servant leadership, schools as learning organizations, how teachers experience becoming teachers, assessement, and critical thinking. I facilitate mindfulness, hospitality retreats. and World Cafe Events using Appreciative Inquiry. I am writing and researching about various forms of leadership, how teachers inform and form their identity as a particular teacher, schools as learning organizations, hope and its anticipatory relationship with the future, and hope as an essential element in learning.

16 responses »

  1. This is definitely a flashbulb memory for me. I was at home and having my cable installed. When the picture finally came in, the first thing I saw was the Twin Towers on fire. I remember feeling a range of overwhelming emotions- shock, horror, and most of all ANGER! It’s a day I’ll never forget! Thank you for posting!

  2. It was a solemn day. This year more so than before with everything going on.

  3. It is a day I remember well. I had the TV on with the new sort of running in the background as I prepared for work. I heard the tone of voice change and turned to look at the picture and saw the first plane hit the tower. Then I was frozen in place.
    When I got to school that day, my personal day became much worse.
    I taught in a community college on the border of Mexico. We got notification the border would be closing with no idea when it would reopen. We had to unenrolled all our Mexican students. We had probably 100 to 150 students who drove across every day to attend classes. Maybe more. I remember the tears, the goodbyes. None of us knew if or when we would ever see each other again.
    Sadly, many of those students I didn’t see again. By the time laws changed and students were allowed to come back, many had decided to work, and some simply couldn’t afford to come back because new, more expensive, fee structures were in place.
    I remember being terrified that we would go to war and that the war would never end. Sadly, I am right. I wish I had been wrong.
    About a week and a half after the attack, I attended a peaceful vigil to ask for no war. Over the next several years as I continued to vigil for peace, I received more death threats than I can remember. I stood for peace weekly, and each week we were verbally assaulted, repeatedly. It was very, very difficult days.
    I know two men who were fireman at Ground Zero. One has died due to problems from that day. The other is quite ill. Both had been young and fit. The attack is still taking its toll.

    • I had not thought of the impact on the southern border with Mexico. That continues to be an issue as people need to move across the borders.

      Wars have a way of becoming part of the cycle with a never-ending process. We become fixed in our views and unable to let go and admit we may have been misled. It is sad standing for peace is seen as problematic.

      We still feel the consequences today of actions almost 20 years ago.

      Take care and be well Emilie.

  4. As for so many others, I remember the day vividly. I was with my students. A few had parents working in NYC and it was very scary and stressful for them. Many parents opted for picking up their kids. One of the teachers lost his sister. The day was so beautiful and when I returned home I could see the smoke on the skyline. At that time I broke down and cried. So many memories filed into my mind. We would go down to the area to walk and visit the area shops. We will never forget!

    • It sounds like it was happening close to you with lots of personal pieces at play.

      Sometimes, distance shrinks. The day of the Sandy Hook killings I had a parent in the classroom who was raised about 1/2 hour away and it hit home plus being a classroom made it even more vivid.

  5. Similar to when President Kennedy was shot, the remembrance of the towers comes back to mind in a visual, visceral way. I was waiting for a client, and when she arrived, I invited her into our home instead of the office and we held hands as we watched.

    I agree with the 6° of separation kind of way. For Americans especially, there was and still is the opportunity to realize that we are not the supreme lords of the planet. We are simply human just like anyone living anywhere else on this sphere. We have had incredible grace, not an assumed privilege. And since the last presidential election, we have another tremendous opportunity to realize the darker side to our collective consciousness. I am hoping for redemption. But I am also old enough to know anything could happen. Still, mother earth will have her way with us in the end. Let’s hope we can learn to live in harmony, both with one another as well as with this beloved planet.

    • My 6 degrees came through hockey and friends who played with and against others. Those others ended up in the US in their hockey careers.

      I agree Nature has a way of reminding us we are not in charge, despite all the real and perceived advancements. I hope we can get it together and begin to reverse the decline.

      Being human is related to humility and humus.

      • Yes, Canadians rule the hockey world, no dispute!

        I like the allegories of humility and humus. Also, for heaven’s sake, humane, humanity … we do need a shift in direction! Aloha, Ivon. ❤

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