When John Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, I was sitting in Miss Wyatt’s seventh grade classroom at Tuscaloosa Junior High School. My wooden desk was next to a wall with high windows, and while the news came over the intercom I watched dust motes drifting in a beam of light as if they had been excused from the law of gravity. The scene is still so vivid to me that it might as well be in a framed photograph on my desk.
When the first World Trade Tower was attacked I was taking roll in my Tuesday morning world religions class. We were due to begin our unit on Islam that day, and while it would be another hour before any of us saw a television, it was a class that few of us will ever forget. That moment in 2001 is as vivid to me as the one in 1963, because during each of them the world changed forever.