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INFORMATIONAL LETTER: 17
POLICY CODE: EBCA
TO: Superintendents of Schools, Principals, and School Board Chairs
FROM: J. Duke Albanese, Commissioner
DATE: September 14, 2001
RE: Reflections on Tuesday’s Terrorist Attacks; National Day of Prayer and
All of us here at the Department, those of you who work in our schools, and fellow Americans find ourselves - just 72 hours after one of the most infamous events in the history of our nation - occupied by a mix of emotions, a jolted reality, and a sense of anxious concern about what lies ahead.
Our beloved America has experienced a history-altering event of such magnitude that its effects reach each of us and all of our families. On the one hand, we have tried to return to normalcy at work, at school, and in our private lives; on the other hand, major aspects of daily living in America and in Maine will change, perhaps forever. And not knowing much about the future landscape, from preventative measures that are sure to change our feelings of safeness to our collective response to seek out the perpetrators who took the lives of thousands of Americans, consumes much of our personal thoughts in this aftermath.
We know it's not over, and we are unsure of the events that lie ahead. Our freedom has been violated. This is tough stuff.
Thomas Paine, at the birth of this democracy, coined some famous words that resonate today: "These are the times that try men's souls". Certainly, September 11, 2001 will mark a time in our lives, in the lives of our family, friends, colleagues, and our students, that will not be forgotten. For those in my generation, we all remember a certain day, an infamous event, and where we were that November 22nd in 1963, when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. I suspect all of us will remember September 11, 2001 and how we heard the news of the 'Attack on America'.
As you go about your daily lives in these times, do attend to family and friends, opening the opportunities for all to share their feelings and emotions. Use your work in and on behalf of public education as a way to contribute to the Common Good of Maine and America. After all, our work is centered on the children and youth in our schools, and they are the future. Accordingly, our efforts to help prepare our students will have much to do with the well-being of our state and of our nation in the years ahead.
President George W. Bush has proclaimed that today - Friday, September 14, 2001 - will be observed as a National Day of Prayer and Remembrance for the victims of the terrorist attacks. The President has asked that people seek appropriate places to pray for our lost loved ones and for America. Importantly, it is incumbent on us to use this tragedy, as horrific as it is, as a “teachable moment”. At the heart of the aims of public education, at the core of teaching and learning, is the charge to help develop strong citizens and to impart the great principles of this democracy.
Indeed, our Guiding Principles in Maine’s Learning Results expect us to help our children and youth become “involved and responsible citizens.” Today and in the weeks and months ahead, do ensure that your teachers and students address the extraordinary events of this week appropriately and with sensitivity, but with full recognition of their significance in the history of America and the world.
Take care and use this moment in history to celebrate and resurrect a sense of patriotism -- that pride in America that sometimes slips away, falling victim to complacency as we take for granted the ideals of freedom and liberty which truly make America the unique place and nation it is. We have much to be thankful for as a people and as a nation. To each of you I ask that you stand united behind this great nation as we confront and overcome yet another challenge to our freedom and to our way of life. Comfort yourself and your loved ones, knowing full well that all of us have been touched by the horrific events of this week.