I read a blog post this morning that was written by a woman who lost her husband in the attacks on September 11. He was in the Twin Towers when the planes hit, and his body wasn't found until November. The post was stark and heartbreaking, and it made me wonder if I, who lost no one in the attacks, have the right to claim a story about that horrible day.
What gives me the right, I thought, to talk about how my day stopped--about how I decided not to follow my teaching plan but instead discussed with my classes what had happened and what it could mean. What gives me the right to try to describe how sad I felt, how my stomach ached when I saw all those men and women leaping to their deaths. What gives me the right to remember that I picked up a pizza for dinner that night because the events of the day were so horrific, and I didn't feel up to cooking. What gives me the right?
But the more I thought about this all today, the more I realized that I do have the right. I am an American. An attack was made on my country, and it took the lives of my countrymen. When something happens to one, it happens to all.
By claiming my own story, I realize that I'm not diminishing the anguish, the pain, and the horror that so many people faced firsthand. Instead I'm taking my place next to them; I'm there with them, suffering with them, praying for them. We are they, and they are we.