A week ago Sunday marked the 15th anniversary of the September 11th Attacks. At mass that Sunday, I reflected on that terrible day 15 years ago and how our country has changed, reshaped, and grown stronger. Fifteen years ago on September 11th, I was two blocks south of Saint Dominic Academy, working as the Assistant Development Director at The Academy of Saint Aloysius. It was my second year there and school had been open for a week. When the news began breaking, it was a situation school administrators had barely dealt with before. How to tell the students, how and when to send them home, what to say to parents who called, these were all questions that sprung to mind- questions that I am sure were going through the minds of the administration at Saint Dominic Academy as well.
We each have our own personal memories and sorrows of that day and for those of us who were in the NY / NJ area on 9/11/01, those memories will always be vivid, able to be called to mind at any moment. As time moves on however, the event becomes a historical one, a tragedy that occurred in the past. Such is the case for our youngest members of the SDA family. The class of 2020, our current 9th grade, are the first generation of high school students who will learn about September 11th as an event that took place before they were born. When my pastor said that two Sundays ago, I was taken aback. For so many of us, that event seems like yesterday, but the world we live in now is the only world some of our daughters or sons will ever know. They have no concept of “before 9/11”, and what the country, or the world was like before that day.
Over the past fifteen years, we have gotten used to new lingo, such as “high alert”, scrolling news feeds 24/7, which keep us all posted on terror cells, the phrase “axis of evil” being frequently used in news reports and other indications that our world, if not our daily lives, were forever changed. And yet, it is in our daily lives where the most significant changes can begin and/or continue to take place and it is within the wall of schools, especially schools like Saint Dominic Academy, where our young men and women can learn from history and hope not to ever see it repeated.
In our classrooms, in every subject we cover during the school day, we at Saint Dominic Academy teach much more than merely tolerance and respect for others. Our message extends beyond those virtues, important as they are, and takes them further. We teach understanding. We teach compassion. We teach acceptance and love and forgiveness. Our mission statement in part states that our goal is to empower women for leadership in our global society. Our young ladies, in grades 7-12 hold the future in their hands. Small acts of kindness and acceptance, taught every day by a faculty who can recall histories past mistakes, will go a long way to shaping the lives of each of our students, so that they bring to the future a Christian message of love, kindness and understanding for all.
God bless America.