This Wednesday marks the anniversary of the terrorist attacks of 9/11. On that day, over 3,000 people lost their lives during four targeted attacks on U.S. Soil—The Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, the World Trade Center Twin Towers in New York City, and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania where a plane hijacked by members of Al Qaeda was flown into a field by passengers who were trying to stop it from flying into a building in Washington, D.C. More than 6.000 people were injured and left us wondering—WHY?
My oldest was 7 years old at the time of the 9/11 attacks. At the time, I didn’t know what to say to him. He didn’t ask any questions, but he knew something happened. I wasn’t prepared to discuss it with him, and I guess he knew that because he never broached the subject with me. We kind of tried to go back to business as usual shortly afterwards, but it was hard. We lived by the airport and for 4 days, never heard a plane fly by or rattle the house. As a mother, I failed because I didn’t explain to him the enormity of what had happened.
My other child was not born at the time of 9/11, and now she is 7 and I don’t want to make the same mistake with her that I did with my son. When she was 5 years old, I sat down with her on 9/11 and explained to her what happened on that day. We watched several programs honoring those that lost their lives, and when I visited the site of Ground Zero last year, I shared the pictures with her and my son. I didn’t want it to be a secret—I wanted her to express how she felt about the tragedy and know that she could ask me any questions.
I ask the question of how do you talk to your kids about September 11th because for many years, I didn’t know how to broach the subject. And now that we have an open forum in my home to discuss the disaster, I want to hear from others so I can also implement other methods.
This year, my daughter and I will be watching the many specials and documentaries about September 11th. I want her to always remember what happened, and that it can happen again. Not to scare her, but to let them know that there are still people out there that want to hurt us and cause us pain. I would rather be honest with my kids than to sugarcoat it, or pretend that it didn’t happen. Or to forget.
How do you talk to your kids about September 11th? I’d like to hear your thoughts.
Below are pictures I took at the Tribute WTC Visitors Center at Ground Zero in NYC.