11 September 2010

Remembering 9/11 With My Kids

My 6th-grade daughter was tasked by a teacher with watching a History Channel special this weekend on the 9/11 attacks. (Thanks to DVR...we had four baseball games today!)

It was a very interesting and well-done show, focusing more on personal relationships between a handful of survivors, but building the story around their day.  I was worried about the appropriateness of the content for an 11-year-old, but there were no problems other than the expected intensity of the fear during the time before the towers fell.

It sure did bring back memories.  Those are not far from the surface, but the images bring them back all the stronger.  I was in my car on the way to work at Missouri Baptist University in St. Louis when I heard a DJ come on and say a plane had hit the WTC.  It didn't seem like a big deal, and they went right back to music.  Then, about 15 minutes later, the second plane hit.  It didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what was going on.  I remember spending much of the day with TVs in the classrooms, watching the coverage with the students.  It was one of those never-forget mornings.

The most intense time for me came four days later.  I vividly remember going out early Saturday morning and getting on my lawn tractor to mow my 3-acre lawn.  I was busily mowing away, thinking about the situation, when for some reason I noticed the sky.  I had to stop the tractor.  There were always a dozen or more contrails in the bright Missouri sky, but on that day, there were none.  That moment the reality of what had happened hit me.  I literally turned off the engine of my tractor and had a good cry.  It was both weird and fulfilling at the same time.  But one thing I knew, the world I'd been living in was never going to be the same.  I had all four kids then, and Ryan, my youngest, was just 18 months old.  It made me sad thinking about the innocence they lost that day without really knowing it.

Now, the special on TV made for a great 'teaching moment'.  I was happy to be able to discuss some of the important things about the attacks and the world we live in with the kids.  I'm sure we'll watch it again (since it is on DVR) and there will be more questions to answer.  These questions are a privilege...after all, when they say, 'We will never forget', how do you suppose we'll make that happen if we don't talk about it with our kids?  Especially in this day, when our own president goes around apologizing for our country, it is all the more important to make sure our kids know the ramifications of what 9/11 means, and how they'll need to deal with those ramifications as they grow up.

I hope millions of kids had a good discussion today with their parents and learned a little something about freedom, good and evil, and family.

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