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Remembering September 11, 2001

Brad and I don't usually post anything on Sundays, but we thought we would say something about this 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

We were both pretty young on that day. I was 9 years old and Brad was 8 (soon to turn 9 a few months later).

My dad had saved his New York Times newspaper dated September 12 and he and my mom were looking through it yesterday.  Brad was over at my house and we happened to walk in the dining room where they had it spread out. I had no idea my dad had saved the paper so Brad and I sat down and began looking through it. I asked my dad why he never mentioned having saved the paper. He said it was always hard to look through it and had only done so a couple of times over the past 10 years. Then he told me one of his best friends knew someone who died that day in one of the Towers.

I got to the editorial page and started reading what one columnist had written. I want to re-print the first few paragraphs here because he mentioned something about school children learning about the news at school. Then it brought back all kinds of memories for me. Remember, I was 9 years old and Brad was 8.

The title of the column was, A Different World and was written by Anthony Lewis:

"A man who worked on one of the top floors of the World Trade Center saw that he was trapped. He telephoned his wife that he was trapped. He wanted her to remember that he loved her and loved their children. They are 1 and 3 years old.

"A friend of his told me the story. More even than the television images, it brought home the pain, and the terror.

"Thousands upon thousands of Americans will have a personal connection to a victim. Or we will imagine the feelings of the passengers on those planes, knowing they were flying to death. School children across the country will remember the day their classes were interrupted to give them the news. We will all be marked forever by this day."

There are 2 things that stand out for me today as I try to remember that day.

One is that it was very scary and confusing because teachers had mentioned something about Boston being involved. I thought it was Boston that was being attacked in addition to New York City and Washington, D.C. and somewhere in Pennsylvania.

The teacher was trying to explain what had happened and was doing it in a calm way but you could see it in her face that she was very different from how she usually was. She looked calm on the outside but looked scared on the inside.

She eventually explained that the airplanes had flown out of Boston, but that Boston was okay. I don't think she was totally convinced that Boston was really okay. And that made me and I think everybody else scared. Later in the day she gave us a very simple and clear version of what had happened and assured us that Boston was okay. She seemed to really believe it this time, and I felt safer. 

The second thing that stands out for me now is remembering how important it had been for the adults to remain calm, give lots of reassurance, make everything clear, and answer every question you had honestly but in language you could understand. Thinking about it now I realize how children get their guidance about managing emotions from the adults around them. My parents did a really good job. They sat me and my two brothers down and explained what had happened and kept reassuring us that we were safe. And they answered every question we had in a way we could understand.

Even though I was too young to understand everything that happened in the days and weeks and months later, what I will always remember about that day was how important people in my life (my teacher and my parents) cared about me and took charge in helping me understand what was happening and to reassure me that I was safe and loved.
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