This morning, Director Julie Hansen joined the eighth grade students up at the outdoor classroom at Burke. While students back at TSS took moments of silence and talked about the importance of remembering 9/11, Hansen read the following speech to the eighth graders out in the beautiful woods of Burke Mountain.
September 11, 2001 began as a day like today. Families woke up, prepared to go to work, go to school, walk their dog, change the baby, fly to a business meeting or a family gathering.
Our lives changed that morning. Our sense of safety, security, and stability was punctured. As the morning unfolded we came to understand that four men, four terrorists, hijacked American airplanes and used them as weapons against our symbols of finance and democracy.
We witnessed first responders, firefighters, and police enter the chaos to rescue survivors and remove them from the devastating scene of destruction. Port authority employees, ferry boat drivers surged along the river to transport citizens out of the city and to their homes.
Day after day they returned to the rubble. Day after day citizens reached out to one another with tenderness. Days became weeks in which we reached out to one another with a new knowledge that indeed there was danger beyond our borders that could hurt us.
We might have chosen fear and suspicion of one another but we did not.
In those hours and days and weeks, we affirmed who we are: e pluribus unum: out of many one.
One nation united in the belief that all people are endowed by the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. United in the belief that our inclusion of all people allows us to meet the highest ideals of our Constitution. We chose to stand for honor and to embrace one another.
You have not seen this common belief in our American differences. But you will see it in your lifetime. You will be courageous when the moment calls you. You will reach out with an open hand and not a clenched fist. You will create solutions to the challenges we face, both domestically and globally.
You will do these things, if I may paraphrase President Kennedy, not because they are easy but because they are American. America stands for the highest ideals imagined by humans. You will lead us to a more perfect union.
You will exemplify the courage, the compassion, and the commitment that shone so brightly in those days after the dreadful day of September 11, 2001. You will choose courage in the face of crisis. You will honor your fellow Americans no matter their heritage, their religion, their gender, their class. You will be who we are.
We are counting on you and we have faith in you.