My Remembrance of 9/11

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Do you remember where you were on 9/11?  I do not remember how I became aware of the horror or who I spoke with when I saw the first plane crash into the tower.  I can not tell you what was going on around me with any certainty.  I know I had a five-year old that, throughout the day, I was wondering what he was hearing at school.  I remember keeping the television on mute or low volume in order to not alert my youngest  child to what I was seeing and hearing.  I know that I spoke with a number of friends and family while it was going on.  But, to this day, I do not have any clarity of what exactly was happening around me.  It all seems much of a blur.

Keep in mind that I am hundreds of miles from the Towers, the Pentagon, and the field where the last plane crashed.  I did not know anyone who was lost in any of that.  I was about as secure as anyone could be on that day.  Which, looking back, did not feel very secure at all.  It took every bit of restraint I had to not head to my son’s school and pick him up.  I knew it wasn’t rational.  What I didn’t know was how I was going to explain this to him when he arrived home.

I am an adult and my mind could not comprehend what I was seeing and hearing.  When the first plane hit, I thought it had to be an accident.  Though, even that, seemed unreal.  Then the next plane hit, and I knew it wasn’t an accident.  As much as I had hoped it was just a terrible, horrible, accident, I knew it wasn’t.  There was someone out there who hated us this much and they were able to get to us on our land.

I knew that my two-year old was not going to understand this, but, my five-year-old?  The monsters he thought of were all pretend.  I could talk those monsters away.  He was certainly aware that not all people were the same, but it wasn’t an issue.  His life, up until that point wasn’t necessarily easy, but that had nothing to do with religion, race, or another person’s belief system.  He was always a cautious child and he knew of  “stranger danger”.  Unfortunately, this was beyond comprehension of the adult in his life.

Now, though we did not lose anyone we personally knew, he had friends and acquaintances that did.  He knew that death was permanent, having lost his grandma the prior year.  I could not fathom how all those families who experienced loss was managing the explanation of any of this, much less explaining it to a child who had also lost to this tragedy.  My heart was grieving for all that was going on.  This heart had to explain, to a five-year-old, that there were boogie men out there.  That because of the hate they allowed in their heart and their lack of tolerance for other’s differences, they caused this horrendous loss of lives.  I had to do this all without corrupting his, or my, heart.  I had to find understanding.

Understanding is not acceptance.  Over the years, as his knowledge grew, and, what our society has come to know, the explanations grew more difficult.  We do our best when our children come to us with questions, and even when they don’t.  They are now able to check various sources and form their own opinions on the actions of others beyond their parent’s.  On this day, in particular, they are well aware of what was lost.  That I am sure of.  I can only hope that their understanding of that day will only deepen.

I realize I can not have complete understanding.  I realize that tolerance is only acceptable to a point.  There are some things in life where you can not “turn the other cheek”, as I have been taught.  My children have been exposed to much more tolerance and/ or acceptance growing up then my generation or the generation before me.  They do know how fortunate they are to be in a country where you are allowed such freedoms.  They are proud of the military men who have gone before them to fight for their freedom.  However, they also know not to judge another group for the actions of other, more radical members.

I can only hope that they will never become so radical that it is only their beliefs that should carry any weight in this world.  That it is the mixture of all that make up the human race and quite an amazing race that is.  I wish the bombers would have known that.

Whatever your beliefs are, my heart is with you for your loss and your tragedy.  It always will be.

One response »

  1. I remember that day like it was yesterday. I did not have the restraint to not go to school to be near Kyle.

    I had dropped him off at school, and went into the office for something to do with PTA. A dad came in and said a small plane accidentally hit one of the twin towers in NYC. I went home and turned the tv on while getting ready for work. The tv camera was filming the smoking tower and we saw (live) the 2nd plane hit the 2nd tower. At that point, I knew that this was no accident. I still had to get ready for work, and did so with tears running down my face. The store manager called and said not to bother coming in because it would be too slow that day. I continued to watch tv, and saw the first tower collapse. I changed clothes and went up to Kyle’s school. A few of us moms set up a table to screen people as they entered the school…as you said, it was not rational, but we sat there all day. The teachers didn’t tell the kids what happened, telling them to ask their parents. Kyle was in 5th grade at the time, and when we got home, I told him what happened, showed him a little of the tv coverage, and we talked about it a little. Then he got upset and punched our reclining chair.

    I know Gregory was in high school at the time, but I don’t remember what his reaction was.

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