Saturday Night Genealogy Fun

Here is your assignment if you choose to play along (cue the Mission Impossible music):

1)  Today is September 11th, and the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attack on the United States.  Where were you, what were you doing, and how did it affect you?

We’ve all heard those ‘where were you when’ discussions. Today, as I write this blog post, many many people are sharing where they were on the morning of September 11, 2001.

In 2001, I was the librarian and computer coordinator at Nemaha Valley High School. To understand, my memory, one has to understand that we didn’t have Facebook, Twitter or even MySpace in 2001. Instead of getting our information from the Internet, we were dependent on television news.

During that time period, some schools had a service called Channel One. This service connected allowed the school to broadcast television content from Channel One to ALL classrooms. Some schools had this capability, but Nemaha Valley did not have Channel One. We did have access to educational programming such as CNN Newsroom and scientific programming. Most of this programming was received via satellite overnight. If teachers wanted to use a particular program in their classroom, then it would be recorded on a VHS videotape. The teacher then could use that videotape in their classroom.

By 2001, we likely had televisions and VCR players in every classroom. However, we did not have the rooms wired for cablevision. Instead, watching live television was restricted to the office and the library. We did have the gymnasium wired for cable but there weren’t any televisions in the gym.

So, on the morning of 9/11, someone – likely from the office – alerted me to the need to watch the news. Thus, I moved a video cart with a 32″ television into the library and connected it to the cable outlet on the west side of the library. Ringed by bookcases, the library had tables and chairs to seat about 32 students. I don’t remember the enrollment at the time, but the high school likely had around 150 students.

As soon as I turned on that TV, students and staff started showing up. Quietly, they would come in and find a place to sit in front of the TV. All eyes were on that screen. One of the people closest to the TV was our new history teacher, Dennis Hermreck. I’m sure other teachers were in and out of the library that morning, but it is Dennis’ presence that I remember. Occasionally, a student would ask a question and Dennis would quietly answer.

When the bell rang for the end of the period, the students would quietly get up and go to their next class. However, many returned to continue watching history being made. As it became apparent that airplanes were being hijacked, one of our students burst into tears. Her parents were in California and scheduled to fly back to Kansas that morning.

The rapt attention to the television did not end with the end of the school day. Instead my husband and I were constantly watching the news that evening and for the next few weeks.

When the news magazines came out chronicling the collapse of the towers, the Pentagon and flight 93, I happened to be in our forensic coach’s room after school. Her young sons happened to be in the room doing their homework. They picked up one of those magazines and she was struggling trying to explain the pictures to her sons.

As we mourned individually and as a nation, we came together. Instead of being Kansans versus New Yorkers, we were all Americans, united in our grief, united in our love for our country.

Each of us have our own individual memories of 9/11. As we remember, may we also remember our unity afterwards and work to reclaim that unity today.

2 thoughts on “Memories

  1. Your day sounds similar to mine except that I taught junior high and all the rooms had TVs. I also remember thinking the day would never end at school. We were all in shock by 6th period. Sadly, all the unity we felt on that day is gone today.

  2. I was at work and heard the news. Checking Yahoo, it looked serious. We went to the Marriott lobby to watch the news. Saw the second tower fall. Shell shocked. We eventually fled downtown Denver on buses against our bosses orders and had to take paid vacation for abandoning our jobs. Still a bitter memory about our organization. My husband’s employer said to go home and get your families.

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