This is pretty much a required post today. All over the blogosphere, people are writing about 9/11 and its impact on them.
Three years ago, I was in front of a classroom full of highschool sophomores. I didn't even know about the attack until almost 10 AM, because I was teaching. Actually, long-term substituting for my wife, who had just had our daughter a month before. She was here in Ohio because her grandmother had dies -- I had flown home on September 10th, so I could teach.
Second period was my planning, so I walked into the Social Sutdies faculty room, where the TV was on to Fox News (as usual). I saw the familiar outline of the World Trade Center, and smoke coming from the top. I was glued to the TV until the bell rang for third period.
Of course, by then the kids all had heard. The rest of the day -- in fact, for most of the rest of the week -- we watched the news and talked about what happened. "Are we at war?", "Are they going to attack here?", "Is the school safe?" -- all questions I had to deal with, and "I don't know" wasn't a good enough answer. "At war with whom? These are terrorists", "Why would they attack a little town south of Atlanta? What do we have here?", "If the school wasn't safe, they'd send us home" (which was exactly what they were hoping for). Soon, classes turned into a series of lessons on the modern history of terrorism (Entebbe, the '72 Olympics, etc.), the motivations of the Islamic terrorists (US support of Israel, out troops in Saudi Arabia, etc.). It took a little effort, but I found a way for the kids to learn something out of the ordeal.
Of course, when I got home I was different. My first concern was for my wife and newborn daughter, who were 13 hours away. We spent a lot of time on the phone that night, then I called my Mom and sister. I was most worried about Mom, who lives a mile from NAS Pensacola. She was fine, but had noticed a LOT more aircraft in the air than ever before. And there was heavy security at the gate when she went to the national cemetary to visit my Dad's grave.
A lot has happened in the last three years. We are accepting some things that we never would have before. Some of the things we should expect, since we are at war. Some of the things we need to make sure stop when peace is restored. But I think that it is very safe to say that in another 50-100 years, historians teaching US history will differentiate between the US pre-9/11 and the US post-9/11. Because this nation will never be the same again.
I'm not sure yet if that's a good thing or not.