Thursday, September 11, 2008

I Had To Tell Them So They Would Remember

Last night, for the first time, I explained to my kids what September 11, 2001 meant.

I'm not sure why I took so long to tell them about what happened that day, but I think most of it comes down to the fact that they weren't born. #1 was only 4 months old. For the last 7 years, the subject of terrorism/hatred/fear/attack is not one I wanted to explain. They are quite young, and I was always afraid that they wouldn't understand; couldn't understand. But in a moment of inspiration, I took a few minutes to explain what the day meant; what it represented, and why we call it Patriot Day.

#1 listened with wide eyes; #2 and #3 were silent. They asked questions and I answered them the best that I could. They were shocked to know that three of our family members were in NYC that day; I had to remind them that they obviously came through it, since we've seen them recently. #1 was intrigued when I explained to them that their daddy and I were with #1 on a houseboat in the middle of Lake Powell and didn't know about it until Sept. 12, 2001. I told them how frantic we were to find out if our family members were okay; we were in shock as we drove through the cell-phone-dead-zone of southern Utah, desperately wanting to watch the news.

I told them about the policemen and the firefighters. I told them about the heroes on United Flight 93. I explained that we celebrate this day so that we will never forget those who died, those who rescued, those who hoped, and those who prayed. We celebrate it so we will not allow those who hate our country to win over our day-to-day lives. We remember so we don't live in fear.

I think they understood. I know I will never forget it and I don't want them to grow up without remembering it, too.

A friend of mine was working in the Capitol building in DC on 9/11. She wrote a beautiful and personal post about it --please go read it. And remember.

I know I've asked this before (last year?), but where were you on 9/11/01?

12 comments:

Susan M said...

My kids are old enough to have experienced it.

I got up that morning early to go to work and got online before leaving. I saw a headline about it and turned on the TV. Two planes had crashed into the towers and they were on fire.

I told the kids and my husband and then left for work, listening on the radio. I got to my car pool partner's house and she hadn't heard about it. We turned on her TV and watched the towers collapse live on her couch. I called my parents when I heard about the Pentagon because my brother lived in DC and sometimes would work there. They weren't up yet and hadn't heard.

I remember thinking, "What's next? The White House?"

We drove into work across the I-90 bridge to Seattle and the skies were empty of planes.

Cristy said...

Ironically, 9/11 is Jim's birthday. Ugh! So today we celebrate that. As for me though, I remember very clearly where I was when it all "went down." I was driving home from my morning jog at the BYU track, about 6:45 am when I heard on the radio about one of the towers being hit (by accident they thought.) I ran into my apartment and turned on the TV and watched in horror, live, with america, the second tower being hit and the realization that the day was going to be horrible. I get chills thinking about it...

I am Michele said...

I was at home asleep with my 1 year old and husband. My best friend (who lived 3 houses away) told me to get over to her house right now. I didn't have tv at the time. I got there and she had the news on and we sat and watched and cried. I felt so sad and there was only one thing I could think to do to bring some peace. So we dropped our daughters off at her sisters house and we, along with my (now ex) husband went to a session at the Jordan River Temple. It was the last one they had that day, before they closed the temple for the day out of respect for what had happened. All of my great aunts and uncles on my dad's side live on the east coast, so I put their names on the prayer roll. I was just glad to be somewhere that I could feel so much peace when there was so much turmoil going on.

Jeanette said...

I felt really bad yesterday. You wanna know why? I noticed flags flying at half mast and wondered why. Did somebody important die? I tried looking online for news but did not see anything and so shrugged it off. Then a few hours later it hit me that it was September 10 and that the next day would be years since the terrorists attacks.
My story is kinda long so I won't share (bore) it here. My brother lives and works in NY city. He was on the subway headed to work that morning. When they came to the stop under the World Trade Center all these people were running around frantically etc. He went out on the roof at work and using binoculars was able to see what he describes as "things he wished he had not seen and will never forget." That is pretty much all he ever told us. I know he really struggled for awhile after Sep. 11. He was a big world traveler but cancelled all his plans and stayed close to home that year.
There was just so much fear and anger after, that is what I remember...

Julie said...

I was a missionary in Ohio and found out when we came out of a district meeting. I watched a little of the news at a member's house and called home to my folks. Other than that, I didn't really know much at all until I came home nearly a year later. Details, I mean. We all talked about it a lot, but just didn't know much.

This morning I pulled out of our driveway and noticed a flag in my yard -- it took me a minute to realize what day it was. It provided a good opportunity to talk about it (in very simple terms) with my kids, though. It's hard to believe none of them were alive when that happened. It still seems so recent.

Stanton and I watched a film on NatGeo the other night called "Inside 9/11" It was so interesting and I saw images and learned things about the events that I never knew. I'd like to own a copy of it. I always want to feel those raw emotions when I think about 9/11 -- I don't want it to become a distant memory.

Cardalls said...

I was at home with my 2 year old and my 5 month old. My husband called and said, "Turn on the news--we've been attacked!" I remember the terror I felt and the sadness. i stayed home all day in my pajamas and held and loved my babies and called all of my family members to tell them I loved them.

bythelbs said...

I was in bed asleep when my husband came and woke me up to tell me about it. I came downstairs to watch the news and saw the towers collapse. It was so very surreal and hard to take in. I still have a hard time wrapping my head around how stuff like this happens.

I was pregnant with #3 at the time and we had just moved into our first house. Over the next few weeks, while I was still very horrified at what had happened to all of these innocent people and their families, I indulged in a few very selfish moments, thinking about what would happen to my family since my husband builds commercial airplanes for a living.

TaLaisa said...

I remember where I was. We had just sent my husband off to work and my 10 month old son and I were folding laundry and watching the Today Show.

I was in shock as I heard them talk about the first hit and then watched as the second tower was hit.

Then just a short while later they started talking about the Pentagon being hit. It hit me like a ton of bricks. My cousin and his wife both worked there. I was frozen, I didn't know what to think or do. I think I sat in front of the TV for hours, crying.

When my Mom came home from work she immediately called her sister (my cousins Mother). Liz had stayed home that day. Brady had gone and she had not heard from him yet. He worked in military intelligence and she didn't even know what part of the building he worked in. They figured that if he were okay, he would be working to find out as much as they could about the attack. And if he weren't okay, they would know sooner or later.

It was the next day that we found out that Brady was 'lost' they couldn't find him. I cried for Liz. I cried for my aunt and uncle. He was working in the very spot that was hit. Eventually they found his body, a miracle as most of the others who died there had to be identified by other means.

I remember Brady today. He was an amazing friend, a life long missionary, and a fantastic example. I always wanted to be as friendly and outgoing as he was, serve others as selflessly as he did and be as adventurous and fearless as he seemed to be.

I also remember his wife, who showed by example that Heavenly Father is mindful of our every need and even the most difficult circumstances have blessings and lessons to be learned.

Mother of the Wild Boys said...

Thanks for posting this Cheryl. I told my two older boys (7 & 6) about it for the first time this morning when one asked, "Why is the flag halfway down?"

I know I'll never forget. I had previously worked as a flight attendant, and still had friends at the airline who were flying that day. Luckily, they weren't on any of the ill-fated flights.

When I had watched the news footage on that morning, it was impossible to stop thinking about all those lost lives. And all the heroic acts.

Leslie said...

I was on my way to work when I first heard about the attacks. My parents were in St. Louis...even though they weren't in the attack zone...they couldn't get home for days. We finally coordinated a family conveyance system to get them home. Different family members driving them through a few states, then another, etc. I had only been married a few months at that time and because my husband was at work, I couldn't get a hold of him. I don't know why I wanted to talk to him so much. I was literally glued to TV reports for the next several days at every spare moment and I think I cried every time I saw those towers fall. What a day...what a legacy. Thanks for the post Cheryl.

Cheryl said...

I love hearing these stories. Thanks, you guys. I know these memories are hard and sad, but so very, very important.

FluffyChicky said...

I had gotten up early to feed the boy (he was only 7 weeks old) when my sister called me in tears and told me to turn on the news. I stood in the living room of our tiny student housing apartment holding the remote, the phone, and my baby boy while watching the towers fall down. I remember yelling for the husband and then I called my mother to find out where my dad was (he frequently was out of town on business and New York was one place he visited every month). Lucky for us, he was in California that week (he had been in New York at the towers only 4 days before, though). Dad was stranded in the Orange County airport and ended up having to rent a car and drive home to Idaho. My sister came over to my apartment and all of us sat and stared at the TV for the rest of the day.

What a wonderful post Cheryl. It is so important to not forget these events that bring our nation together and make us a stronger people.