September 2011 Issue
August 21, 2011

Letters: Sept. 11, 2001: We will never forget

Source: NYSUT United
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Caption: Ground Zero, 2002. Photo by Marie Triller.

Here's a sampling of comments from our Facebook page. Add your thoughts:

I was in my [guidance] office at school. My mom called me to tell me what was happening. Our union rep came in and told us a private plane must have hit the towers, but he hadn't seen the news the way my mother had. We went into emergency mode, covering classrooms for teachers so they could try to find out about their loved ones in the towers, dismissing students to their parents. I now think of the world in terms of before and after 9/11.

Ricki Butler

... When I put the news on in my social studies classroom the students thought that we were watching scenes from a make-believe disaster movie. It took quite some time for them to absorb the shock that this was real. Later that day, a number of students realized that they had relatives working in or near the twin towers. This was only the beginning of the roller coaster ride that became the aftermath of 9/11 and the start of "Project Liberty" in the Central Islip school district.

Wendy Kaplan

I was in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas getting ready to present an educational workshop for teachers on the "Integration of Video Across the Curriculum." I was stranded and was unable to return to New York City until Sept. 16. Knowing I was from New York City, and very scared, the educators in McAllen took me into their hearts and homes. They could not do enough for me. We forged friendships that have lasted to this day.

As a result, when AFT needed organizers to help recruit members, I volunteered to return to that spot of America that had invaded my heart and held my hand at such a difficult moment in our nation's history.

I have established many friendships with fellow teachers in that part of Texas (we have mini reunions at TEACH & AFT conventions), have continued to return, on a yearly basis, to organize and have even organized in other states for AFT. It is my way of "giving back" for all that the UFT, NYSUT and AFT have done for me professionally.

Josie Avellanet Levine

I was visiting a school and the TV was on in one of the classrooms. I saw the second plane hit and actually felt my soul stir. That is a feeling I have only known perhaps two or three times before. My sister and brother live in New York ... My brother watched in disbelief from his office building those jumping to their deaths. My sister was pulled into a building by a friend. I just remember how absolutely beautiful the sky was that day

... And how quiet it all was. That event changed me forever.

Catherine Guay-Perison

... I watched the TV in horror while at work as the second plane crashed into the tower. The BOCES I still work at is literally next to the Air National Guard base in Central New York. The only thing that separates us is a fence. The whole building shook as all the F-16s stationed there went screaming into the air to protect our nuclear power plant. We used to be able to walk on the base for exercise before Sept. 11. The gate has been permanently locked ever since that morning.

Maria Baris

My graduate class was cancelled due to the day's events and I was able to be my sister's birthing coach and witness my niece being born.

She was born on 9/11/01 and weighed 9 pounds, 1 ounce. She will be 10 this year and she is the most selfless young girl I have ever met. So sweet and always thinking of others. And such a great cousin and mentor to my 2- and 3-year-old children. - Kristina Jacobs Loop

I was working in a dead-end job at the time. Had my B.A., but hadn't done anything with it. It made me realize how important it is to do something meaningful every day, to be happy with what you are doing in life. Just over a year later, I left my job and was in graduate school. I'm going into my seventh year of teaching.

Heather Frame Robertson

We devoted our letters page to comments in remembrance of the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorists attacks. Letters to the editor will return in the next issue. Letters may be submitted to


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