Local reflects on when the towers fell

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 11, 2008

NATCHEZ — Allyson Burns was sitting in her 10th grade geometry class at Cathedral High School when she heard the news — two planes had crashed into New York City’s World Trade Center and a third into the Pentagon.

At first, she could not believe her ears. It was surreal, she said. She was shocked and scared, although she did not really understand the gravity of the situation until she looked into the faces of teachers.

While Sept. 11, 2001 was seven years ago, to Burns and many of those who watched the towers fall, it seems like just yesterday.

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“It’s one of those moments I’ll never forget,” she said.

It is similar to how other generations feel about Pearl Harbor and the John F. Kennedy assassination, she said.

The teachers did a great job of explaining the situation to the students, she said.

“Looking at the teacher’s faces is what really sunk in with me,” she said. “They were calm and not panicky.”

Now, seven years later, Burns is on the other side of things, and will be explaining the significance of September 11, 2001 to a group of fourth graders at McLaurin Elementary, where she is a first-year teacher.

“I am going to talk about it in general and show them a book with some images,” she said.

Because her students were so young when it happened, they may not understand the significance of the attacks, she said.

“They’ve grown up hearing about it and seen the images,” Burns said. “It didn’t really impact their little world unless they had someone to serve in the war.”

And Burns has had a several friends serve in the war.

“(Sept. 11) has given me a great sense of patriotism and lots of my friends have gone to serve their country because of 9/11,” she said.

Several of those friends have their names embroidered on a Marine flag in Mike Roboski’s Cathedral High School classroom, where he taught Burns.

Above his desk, in the back corner of the classroom, Roboski has the names of 12 students who have gone on to serve in the Marines embroidered on the flag.

While Burns saw calm on the face of her teachers, Roboski, who teaches religion to 10th and 11th graders, said he was as shocked as many of his students.

“The terrifying thought was, this is Pearl Harbor all over again,” Roboski said. “There’s a certain amount of dread as to what this is the start of. How quickly are we going to plunge into war?”

Roboski and his students watched the images over and over again throughout the day.

“Like everyone else, we were glued to the television for the next 48 hours,” he said.

Cathedral will open school with a prayer commemorating Sept. 11, and Roboski will also discuss the attacks in class.

“It’s not something that’s forgotten,” he said.