Every year on September 11, I think about where I was on that morning (law school). I think about my friends who were there and their harrowing stories of their survival and the coworkers/friends they lost. I vividly remember trying to confirm that my father (a commercial pilot flying to DC that day) was still alive. I remember the tone of fear in my mother’s voice on the phone – from someone who never wavered – as she told me to drive away from Philly and get home.  I remember trying to reach my brother, my college roommate, sorority sisters, my former work friends. I would think about my commute to work in 1998-1999 when I took the Path train from Hoboken into the World Trade Center every day and how much I took for granted in that 2 block walk through the trade center buildings and how many people I commuted with every day could be gone.

It’s all still so fresh. I’ve rehashed it every year on Facebook or in my blog. We all remember exactly where we were and what we were doing. We remember the friends we’ve lost or the ones who survived. I will probably forever replay in my mind what happened that day. But I don’t want to keep talking about it that way.

I don’t want to ever forget the stories of the people we lost on 9/11 or the stories of heroism on that day. I don’t want to ever forget the feeling of patriotism, American pride and togetherness that we felt in the time thereafter (even if it was fleeting for some). But I feel like the conversation is different now. Now, I’m raising my children in a post-9/11 world. I’m raising my children in a world where terrorist attacks on US soil can happen and where 6 year olds can be gunned down in a quiet CT elementary school.

Instead of talking about the fear, the violence, the last moments of scared and brave people, I want to talk about it differently:

I want to talk about humanity – the human race, how we are all connected as living, breathing beings.

I want to talk about selflessness – the selfless acts on 9/11 and afterwards.

I want to talk about resiliency through pain – the families who have persevered despite their incredible loss.

I want to talk about charity – the donations of time and money to survivors and victims’ families.

I want to talk about pride and community – the togetherness and spirit as Americans and New Yorkers.

I want to talk about understanding people – how we educate ourselves about religion and people (lessons learned from our judgment of Muslims after 9/11).

I want to talk about hope.

I want to talk about living the lives we dream about and overcoming our fears.

I want to talk about changing the world and how possible it is.

That’s what I want to talk about with my boys where they ask about 9/11. I want them to know that they do live in a post-9/11 world but it’s still a world filled with opportunity, love, hope, compassion, humanity and a glorious future.

What do you want to share with your children?

 


RESOURCES:

Books:

Here is a book by elementary school students that delivers a message a hope:
September 12th: We Knew Everything Would Be All Right

America is Under Attack

Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey

Other resources:
The 9/11 Memorial: Talk to your Children about 9/11
How to Talk to Your Kids About 9/11
Talking to kids about 9/11 – published 9/11/14

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