For me, the events of 9/11 became a catalyst that changed my thinking about the world we live in.
While living in South Jersey, removed from direct contact with the events of the day, I nonetheless was shocked to see them unfold on tv. I was incredulous--could this really be happening in my country, a bastion of safety and security? My fear erupted, and I scrambled to gather my children from their schools, uniting my family so that we could escape if necessary. While I made every effort to reassure my children that everything would be ok, I struggled to remain composed. I was shocked, scared, and confused. My husband and I could do nothing but continually watch the news coverage, exacerbating our fears.
As time wore on, and American patriots responded to the distress of our fellow countrymen, I became energized with the unity of our American spirit, the ability to persevere even in the face of ultimate despair. I saw local first responders renew their dedication to service, and I saw neighbors step up to provide the necessary support to heal our fellow citizenry. Yes, we were still afraid of unknown threats, but we were united in our healing process.
It has been a long, arduous journey for Americans, and many of us still bear the scars from that fateful day. Yet it has proven to me that the resiliency of the American spirit lies within us all. We can overcome the fear and hatred that threatened to destroy us, then and even now. I, for one, have determined that it is my duty to help combat the ignorance that leads to divisiveness. I have taken it upon myself to educate my own children about the need for tolerance and acceptance, even when others' ideas are in conflict with my own.
As an educator, I work to build pathways to bridge the divides that separate us. I work to help my students resolve their differences, even when our ideological foundations appear to be threatened. I celebrate the uniqueness of each of my students and celebrate our respective cultures. Most of all, I celebrate the fact that I am an American. I am proud of my fellow countrymen, and I know that we share a bright future, even in the face of adversity. Together, we can achieve greatness!