Retired teacher recounts meeting President Bush at a school in Florida on 9/11

Published: September 11, 2021 9:39 PM EDT
Updated: September 11, 2021 10:33 PM EDT

A teacher remembers waiting for President Bush to arrive in the media center at her school on 9/11.

September 11th has always been a special day for Patricia Varley. She was a teacher at Emma E. Booker Elementary School. “That was my son’s birthday, September 11, which I say was because we don’t celebrate it anymore,” said Varley.

“How can you celebrate one life when so many people lost their lives?” Varley said.

The significance of September 11, 2001 changed all of us. Varley was able to witness first-hand how 9/11 changed history and changed America. “I’ve never met a president before and everybody was excited. And it was… it was really exciting,” said Varley.

Excitement filled Emma Booker Elementary School on September 11th. President George W. Bush read to a class of kids. Varley, staff at the school and students patiently waited for the president to stop by the media center.

“We got word that he wasn’t going to come in right away. You know, go do something else for a while when he’s going to come in, he will speak to us,” said Varley.

But, they had no idea that something that would later change history had just occurred. “We didn’t know that we knew nothing. What happened, we actually didn’t know anything until he came in to speak to us,” she said.

The first time President Bush addressed the country about the attack was from the media center at Emma Booker Elementary. “Today, we’ve had a national tragedy. Two airplanes have crashed into the World Trade Center in an apparent terrorist attack on our country,” said President Bush.

Varley was standing just inches away when the announcement was made. “The hardest part was every single emotion that you can possibly think of is going through your head in your body, and you want to cry, you want to scream, you don’t know what want to do,” Varley said.

WINK News asked Patricia if she was worried Booker Elementary would be targeted as well since the President was there recently. “We certainly did think about it. But then we really thought they probably, whoever, knew that the President would be gone,” Varley said.

“My heart still feels heavy. I still feel such sorrow for the people that lost their lives and the people who lost those people,” said Varley.

This taught her not to sweat the small stuff, to keep her loved ones close. And, most importantly that you may find yourself part of history when you least expect it.