Today is September 11th.
My students were born in 2010 or 2011. They didn’t experience that day. They don’t know the world we knew before that day.
My students also live on a military post. They all have at least one family member serving in the military. This day likely has significant meaning to many of those family members.
Mostly our day today will be like all the others this week. My kiddos will have to take a universal screener assessment for math this afternoon. They’ll go to music and P.E. We’ll continue organizing our classroom library. We’ll debate which playground to go to for recess.
But I’ll be thinking about the date. I’ll be remembering my class of fourth graders 18 years ago. The majority of those fourth graders, like the majority of every class of kiddos I taught in the past twenty-one years, was a first- or second-generation immigrant.
For myself, for my current kiddos, and for all those kiddos I’ve taught in the past, today I’m going to read Her Right Foot by Dave Eggers and illustrated by Shawn Harris. The majority of the book gives the history of the Statue of Liberty. It’s witty and quirky, as one would expect from Eggers.
The last part of the book addresses the title. The statue’s right foot is placed in movement, as if she is walking forward. As if she is so eager to greet those coming to our shores that she cannot wait for them, but must walk out to meet them.
I know I will tear up and possibly cry as I read this to my students today. I hope they understand, at least in some way, that I read it to honor what they and their families give to us. And to my former students, I read it to honor all they have done to be here and all they continue to do to make us better.
I read it today to reflect on the past and to move forward.