Teaching the New Generation of September 11th

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Today’s been an interesting day to say the least. It’s amazing the mixture of emotions that have come to me as the 10th anniversary of September 11th passes. It’s this interesting mix of pride for America and its resiliency, sorrow for the loss of life and still not completely understanding how people could do what they did.

However, the thing that struck me most today was that my son really didn’t know anything about September 11th. He’s only 7 years old and so we’d never really talked to him about the details of what happened and quite frankly he’s still too young to really understand the meaning of that terrible day.

My wife and other two kids were out of town this weekend and so my 7 year old and I sat together and watched a few of the 9/11 specials that were going on. It provided a new perspective to me to try and share with my son why someone would fly a plane into a building like that. Needless to say, he’s got a lot more to learn and understand about the situation. However, it was educational for me to think through the questions he asked. I definitely didn’t have all the answers, but it helped me to appreciate the sacrifice the emergency response staff made on that day.

At one point in the fire fighter special we were watching my son had slowly gone and gotten all the fire engines we had in the house (I didn’t realize we had so many). In one scene they’re driving to ground zero where they see fire engines trashed and cars, ambulances and fire engines on top of each other. My son started to do the same with his toy fire engines. I tried to help him understand how “the good guys,” the fire fighters were doing everything they could to save people’s lives.

Each year as he grows, I’m sure he’ll learn more and more about the importance of 9/11. In some ways, I guess it’s a good thing that he doesn’t have to be harrowed by sad memories of that day.

I read somewhere that the theme for the 9/11 10 year anniversary is “I will volunteer.” I love the idea, but wish they’d have called it, “I do volunteer.” The idea of volunteering and helping others shouldn’t be like a New Years Resolution which we fail to keep. Helping others should be apart of who we are. I hope that this is indeed the legacy of 9/11. That’s what I plan on teaching my son.