September 11, 2001. A day we will always remember. A day that we will never forget. A day that changed our world as we know it. A day that made our lives never the same.
Copy of “First Pass, Defenders Over Washington” by Rick Herter. The painting depicts Capt. Dean Eckmann in his F-16, as he was the first to arrive at the Pentagon. A copy of this print is hanging in my sister’s Virginia home in honor of her husband who was one of the three pilots.
September 11, 2001. Eleven years ago today. How long it seems since that fateful terrifying day. How short it seems as if it was just yesterday. The images and feelings of shock, anger, horror, sadness, fear and what ifs will forever be engrained in our minds. The images and emotions are things that we will never be able to forget and will never stop seeing when we close our eyes. The fruitless human lives that were lost. Our freedom imprisoned. Our hearts never the same. Our lives forsaken.
But we all know that life goes on. It must go on. We can never give up. We can not live in fear. We must fight for our country. We must pull together and be united. We must raise our children to understand, to learn and to cherish what we have. We must teach them the injustices in life, the brutality of war, the inequities of people around the world and the importance of freedom. Freedom of speech. Freedom of religion. Freedom of race. Freedom of gender. Freedom to be. Freedom to live.
We must teach our children to respect others. To understand differences. To care. To love and not hate.
So, how on earth do you explain to your children the unexplainable events of September 11th? How do you explain something so horrible, so bad, so unthinkable that you can’t even explain or understand it yourself?
When do you tell your children about September 11th? Is there ever an age or time that is appropriate? How do you tell your five and seven-year-old children what happened without completely terrifying them? They will need to know. They will need to understand. They will eventually find out. But how do I tell them first?
I don’t want my newly able to read son to someday pick up the newspaper and read it himself. To see those images from hell, the ones we will never ever forget, of the planes bursting into the World Trade Center. The images of horror, chaos and confusion of the people covered in soot from falling, burning debris. The graphical images and replays of 9/11 on TV that never seem to stop playing over and over again across the CNN, Fox News and others. The unavoidable, unstoppable media that will show these images at the airport, on the magazine covers at the grocery store or wherever else there is a TV (hard to avoid these days) for the rest of our lives and our childrens lives too.
When and how do I explain to my young children the unexplainable day of 9/11? Will I ever be able to explain it? No.
I still haven’t told my children and don’t know how I will. But the time will come. The paper is sitting here today and soon my son will ask “Mom, Dad, what are they doing there? What is that?”
This post was originally written on my blog “The Diary of a Happy Mom”. I also wrote a more extended piece last 9/11 on thirdeyemom. To read, click here.