School’s out Friday

No funny video today. Too many memories surround this date and I’d rather pay respect to those affected by the 9/11 tragedy by looking at something that recognises the remarkable people who calmly made their way to safety on the day.

This is Michael Hingson and his guide dog, Rozelle. She assisted Michael to make his way down from the 78th floor of one of the World Trade Centre buildings on September 11th, 2001. It’s a moving tale of survival.

I can never forget that day 8 years ago and I’m sure it is the same for all of you. I watched the events of that day late at night on television here in Australia. I happened to be watching the late news and saw the events unfold. I stayed up until after 3.00am because I couldn’t leave the broadcast. It was so awful and compelling; I remember waking numb.

A while after the events of that day I remember reading an article that described the calm and ordered manner the people of New York employed to find their ways home when faced with no regular means of transport. It was described in that article as being on par with the evacuation of Dunkirk in WWII. Rick Spilman has written a post today on The Old Salt Blog, that discusses this very thing.  In it, he recounts his wife’s experiences on the day. She was in a lower floor of one World Trade when the first plane hit. She eventually made her way to Wall Street on the East River where a makeshift ferry service had begun. No fares were accepted on the day.

Rick makes this important observation about the day;

One of the lessons of 9/11 that seems to have been lost was that there was relatively little chaos or panic, on the water or ashore.   Those operating the makeshift rescue fleet worked together – improvising, adapting and doing what was necessary to get the job done.  Likewise, their passengers were overwhelmingly cooperative and calm.   No one was “in control” and there was no single plan, just hundreds of captains, deck hands and engineers who did what they thought they needed to do, under horrible conditions.   If the purpose of terrorism is to terrorize, the terrorists  failed in the waters around New York on 9/11.    

I encourage you to read Rick’s post. This is an important story to relay to our students. Many don’t know how to feel about threats to our safety. If we help our students to realise that people are really quite remarkable in the face of tragedy and extreme conditions, we may be able to help allay fears they have.  Rick makes reference to some research done by Dr. Enrico Quarantelli and Kendra, T. Wachtendorf at Disaster Research Center at the University of Delaware. Their report, entitled, ‘Who was in charge of the massive evacuation of Lower Manhattan by water transport on 9/11? No one was, yet it was an extremely successful operation.’ , is something you should consider using in your classrooms.

To those of you affected personally by this tragedy, my heart goes out to you.

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