a clear blue sky…

And they were canopied by the blue sky,
So cloudless, clear, and purely beautiful,
That God alone was to be seen in Heaven.
Lord Byron, “The Dream,” 1816


(Julie Cook / County Cork, Kinsale, Ireland / Sept 2015)


(Julie Cook / County Cork, Kinsale, Ireland / Sept 2015)

Despite the calendar refusing to turn from one season to another, there
was that ever so gentle hint of change.

The lack of humidity, coupled by a deep azure blue sky up above,
brought a slight smile to my face while I walked between the two
school wings.

I was well aware the bell was soon to ring as we readied to move from
2nd period to 3rd.
Over in an adjacent building, I had to pick up some copies for my next class,
so I joyously soaked in the quick respite of peace found outside
on this beautiful September morning.

As I walked back into my building, ready for the bell to ring, I took up
my usual position standing by my classroom door, ready to monitor
the hall during class change.

With the ringing of the bell, doors flung open as a throng of adolescents
chirpped and chatted their way out into the hall…a sea of bodies moving
much like fish, navigating both up, down as well as around the stream of a hallway.

Suddenly, a neighboring teacher and coach, came running up to me grabbing my arm.
“They’ve attacked us…they’ve hit New York and D.C…
“Turn on your television!!!” he yelled out over his shoulder as he continued
racing down the hall.

“What?”
“Attack?”
“Who?”

As my kids began to trickle into the room, I hurriedly went over to
turn on the classroom television.

And there is was…smoke streaming upwards from one of the the
World Trade Towers.

Some of my kids had already gotten wind of what was taking place while
others remained blessedly, albeit briefly, clueless.

There was now a heavy silence in the room as my kids walked in, dropping
their backpacks on the floor as they gathered in front of the T.V.
Some stood, some sat on the table tops, all staring silently at the images on
the television.

One girl broke the silence with a panicked plea…
“Mrs. Cook, my dad, my dad, he flew up this morning to New York for business.”
“Go use the phone in my office to call your mom…”

The remainder of the day was a heavy haze.
New York.
D.C.
Pennsylvania…

The teachable moments that day were unfolding before our eyes on every channel
on every television around the world.

There remained a heightened sense of what could possibly happen next.

Following the end of the day, I waited on my son, who was in the 6th grade,
to walk up from the Jr High so we could go home.
It was more than time to go home.

Like the other kids, he walked into my room overwhelmed.
I got my things together and we walked quietly to the car.

This particular night was to be our monthly school board meeting.
It was the night that the Teacher of the Year was to be announced.
I happened to be one of the three teachers nominated.
I was representing the high school.
The two others were from the elementary school and our junior high.

I had so hoped our superintendent would cancel the meeting
but he was of the mindset that we would not let “the terrorists” win…soooo
the meeting was to begin at 7.

I called my husband telling him that I didn’t want him to accompany me
to the meeting that evening but rather I wanted him to stay
home with our son.
At this point, we really didn’t know what else, if anything, would happen.
Plus the heaviness of what was playing out before our eyes was simply
overwhelming…I wanted to be lost in my thoughts.

Before getting ready to head to the BOE, I walked out onto our back deck.
At the time, we lived about an hour west of Atlanta’s Hartsfield Jackson
Airport…we lived in one of the westerly flight paths…planes overhead
were always common.
On this particular late afternoon, the sky was eerily quiet because the
Government had grounded all US and international flights in and out…
all around the country.

At the BOE meeting, when it was time to begin the meeting, we all stood for
the Pledge of Allegiance—tears poured from all the gathered faces.
The Board Chairman asked for a moment of silence for all the
lives lost and for all those still missing and for those searching.

He then lead us in reciting The Lord’s Prayer.

The sobs were palpable….

And so now, all these 20 years later…
I wonder….
what have we gleaned, what have we learned?
As an educator, that is always the question…what has been learned?

Looking around…I think we’ve learned very little, if anything.
Despite our vow to remember, we’ve actually forgotten.
We’ve skewed the factual with the desirable.
We’ve softened as we’ve chosen to ignore or even twist reality.

When speaking of Nazi Germany, Winston Churchill once mused
“What kind of people do they think we are?
Is it possible they do not realize that we shall never cease
to persevere against them until they have been taught a lesson
which they and the world will never forget?”

His was a vow that those oppressors and usurpers of democratic freedoms
should never forget that those who have chosen the path of freedom
have vowed to fight the good fight to the bitter end.

I dare say our leadership today has long forgotten such a vow.

The vow to defend Western Civilization from the onslaught of
tyranny and oppression.
But rather our leadership and many of us have actually fostered a culture
of ill that strives to despise itself.
We have turned away and within… as we choose to devour ourselves
from the inside out.

Did approximately 3000 people die in vain September 11th 2001?

What of those individuals who when faced with the choice of burning to
death chose to jump to their death…were those heinous choices in vain?

Did thousands of first responders die in vain that day as they raced toward disaster
rather than retreating?

Have thousands more, who over the past 20 years have fallen victim to lasting
toxins, have they suffered and died in vain?

Have thousands of servicemen and women died in vain defending
the very freedoms that you and I simply take for granted?

Did 13 servicemen and women die last week, in vain, when hastily retreating
from an undignified exit to an unfinished mission all because of a sitting
president’s ill advised plan?

I really don’t know what to think on this 20th anniversary of 9/11.

Who is this America that now looks in the mirror?
I dare say that all those who gave and have given their lives
on and since that fateful September day would no longer recognize the
nation we have become.

Time lessens our sorrow but it also dulls our minds and hardens our hearts.

“True patriotism hates injustice in its own land more than anywhere else.”
Clarence Darrow

18 comments on “a clear blue sky…

  1. David says:

    We had just finished lunch here Julie. A friend phoned, told us to turn on the television, and immediately hung up. We turned on the TV and watched as one of the towers was hit. We couldn’t believe it and remained glued to the screen in absolute horror for much of the afternoon.

    I still keep a ticket in my wallet from going up to the observation deck of the WTC when I was in New York in 1978. Just to remind me and make sure I never forget what happened on that day. Sadly, I agree with you that many in leadership have forgotten the vow made to defend Western civilisation, and I find myself asking the same questions as you have asked above.

    • I’ve gone in and fixed a few of the typos in the post David so I’ve read and reread the post multiple times this morning— a post haltingly written last evening as I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted, or better yet, should say.
      And so I find myself growing angry with each reread— I am angry for all the lives lost and for all the lives still being lost while that same America and even our entire Western Civilization, is now skewed and distorted —
      I am so angry with our current leadership for the distorted path they now drag us down just as I am angry at all of us for allowing ourselves to be dragged.
      Perhaps now, I am more determined to speak out against the idiocy now taking place here— the lunacy. They, and I even mean average folks, now call those of us who are morally minded, patriotic, and conservatives nut jobs, ignorant and backwards— but rather they are the ones who have been brainwashed— so I suppose to not forget now means to constantly remind everyone, along, with myself, that western civilization is not outdated and is not in need of a socialistic overhaul!!!!!
      Gregory was in school in New York as those buildings were being built, he always takes in awe about watching the construction workers balance a fine wire as they rose into the sky!

      • David says:

        It’s no different here Julie. There’s a lot that makes me angry, but while I know that this world is not our home I agree that we have to stand against the lunacy.

        We were one week in New York for engine repairs in 1978, meaning that for a change the deck officers had the opportunity to go ashore as no cargo was being worked. I went up on the WTC observation deck twice that week. The twin towers were stunning and I just loved standing up there above NYC. Personally I would have rebuilt the WTC as it was – two towers sending a two-finger message to those who subscribe to terrorism.

      • Yes— two fingers for victory- I felt the same about rebuilding— oh well

  2. bcparkison says:

    I think we the people can handle the terrorism coming from out side but when it is from or own countrymen…that is adifferent story. God have mercy on us and the people who still don’t have a clue what is going on.

  3. atimetoshare.me says:

    The last quote is perfect for this post. The horrors of that day still remain in my memory. They’ve been emblazoned on my heart, but we do have to search for the good that came from that event and start from there to set the fire of patriotism again. We have lost sight of God’s ability to bring order out of chaos. It may seem as though the entire country has forgotten or lost track of the ugliness that occurred that day, but we really need to get back on track with God for things to change. We can’t do it alone.

  4. Tricia says:

    This was s a beautiful and very sad post Julie. I could feel what you were feeling as I read your story of what happened that day. The same raw feeling, the unbelief that what was happening was really happening and the utter exhaustion of having your emotions drained right out of you.

    And yes, we have forgotten and unfortunately those lives were all lost in vain. Our leadership now is morally bankrupt frankly working against its own citizens. I said before we are in uncharted waters but we really aren’t. History is repeating itself, as it always does, we just happen to be caught in the moment of it happening.

    God bless those men and women who died September 11 and all those who paid the ultimate price fighting for our freedoms. God bless America too, some day she will rise again.

  5. hatrack4 says:

    Thanks, Julie, I wrote nothing on this, not because I forgot, but things have been bouncing around. Maybe you said it a few days ago, but someone said, “They are just kids” referring to the soldiers that were lost recently. I may not write about it for a while, but I need to craft it so that it makes sense to me. Some in the towers were older than “just kids.” My son was supposed to have been in the Pentagon in the section that was hit, but the helicopter to take him there was broken down and the meeting was cancelled. So many lives lost and all we have accomplished is to make the Middle East, at least some of it, hate us even more. And now they can shoot us with our own weapons. As a commercial for Rev. Jeffress’ television show repeats, All things work for the good for those that love the Lord and that is to make you more like the Lord. Or something like that. It is hard to understand when such craziness unfolds. I can see why George W. got us into the fight. We could not do nothing, but it still makes no sense.

    • I agree Mark and some years I don’t make mention of the anniversary— and what I wrote was not really what I thought I’d start out writing—
      20 years, countless loss of life and yes— all for what?
      Are we safer?
      Maybe we were but are we now?
      And even if Genghis Khan couldn’t do anything with these people nor the Soviets— should we be shocked that we couldn’t either?
      And so we scramble out, tuck tail and leave them billions if dollars in equipment and machinery — for what?!
      Yep— today is a solemn day of remembrance but it is now a day of feeling
      empty— the day we let all those now lost souls down due to our ineptitude, arrogance and blindness—frustrating indeed

  6. SLIMJIM says:

    Sobering to read this; 20 years later I still get emotional seeing videos and pictures of that day. 9/11 has shaped so much of my early adulthood with the war on Terror

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