Ground zero responder shows appreciation for Bryan ISD class 20 years later.
BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - After 20 years, Eddie Mathison and Susan Honea met for the first time on Thursday.
“It was incredible, it feels like I’m in a dream,” said Honea. “He’s just been such a wonderful, powerful part of my career.”
In 2001 Honea was teaching her third-grade class at Branch Elementary when news spread quickly about planes crashing into the Twin Towers.
“We had no idea what was happening. It was very emotional. It was terrifying. I remember that another teacher and I hugged each other and tried to comfort one another and then I left and went back to my classroom,” said Honea.
At the time Mathison was on the Texas Task Force 1 team that helped with recovery.
“We were the second wave that went through and relieved the crews that had been working there the first 10 days,” said Mathison.
Honea says she worked to give her students an outlet as the nation tried to understand what happened on Sept. 11.
“We let the students talk. We let them ask questions and whatever questions they asked we tried to answer,” said Honea.
The students wrote letters of support to ground zero responders with her class connecting with Mathison.
“I saw the letters and I was like ‘hey these people need to know their efforts back here are just as important as the efforts going on at ground zero,’” said Mathison.
Mathison says it was a similar project he participated in during the Vietnam War.
“The teacher I had, the Vietnam War had just started. The media wasn’t as bad then but you’d still see pictures of war and talk of war but she did the same thing Mrs. Honea did and we wrote letters,” said Mathison.
Mathison wrote back, challenging the children to a writing competition.
“He challenged us to write essays about what it meant to be an American and why we say the Pledge of Allegiance. The winning essay got the t-shirt that he wore at ground zero,” said Honea.
Mathison believes its teachers like Honea who deserve praise.
“I know that it’s hard for teachers to keep kids on a level of calm and when 9/11 happened there was a lot of fear. I believe you [Honea] used those letters to engage those kids, to eliminate their fears and let them feel that they were part of the solution of putting things back together,” said Mathison.
Twenty years later, he presented Honea and the school with plaques of gratitude and returned the letters.
“I wanted to bring the letters back to complete the circle so that this generation could see what had transpired and how the kids handled it and everything but I also wanted the teachers to see that and know that it’s not done in vain,” said Mathison.
“The fact that I can show other students what students their age did on that terrible day I think that is going to be very powerful for the students,” said Honea.
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