As the nation stops to remember the 10th anniversary of 9/11, I am struck with the lack of information that my own kids have received in regards to this event. The world in which I lived changed forever on that day – but it also changed the world in which my kids would grow up. While they see the effects daily of the events of 9/11, ( airport security, wars, governmental policy changes, uprising in the Middle East, news reports that reference that day, etc.), I didn’t realize that they really hadn’t understood what the day itself looked like.
Two nights ago, I sat with my 14 year old son to watch news footage of the terror attack. I was caught off guard as I watched the image of the second plane crashing into the tower – not by the visual (I’ve seen it many times before), but by my son’s gasp. It was the first time he’d seen that footage. It was even the first time that he realized we’d all watched it live on national television.
It changed the way I watched the events of that broadcast.
Instead of personally reliving the moments, I then anticipated his reactions as the first tower fell.
Then the second tower.
I had an etched image in my brain of the clouds of debris chasing people down the Manhattan streets, and I wanted to see his face as the enormity of the situation sunk in.
I knew there were going to be images of bloody people covered in white ash running for their lives, and I wanted to make sure that he was OK with what he was seeing.
He got to hear first hand the testimonies of the people trapped in the towers, the last phone messages left by those who knew they were dying, the 911 calls from the plane that went down in Pennsylvania as the travelers realized what they had to do, and the survivors whose lives were devastated by the invasive loss of that day.
I was grateful for that broadcast, if for no other reason than to give context and an explanation as to why this event was as life-changing as it was. It was thousands of lives lost. But it was also hundreds of thousands of lives transformed as they rushed out of the towers, ran for their lives from a monstrous cloud of ash, stopped to help another person on the street, grieved over loved ones lost…
It changed my world, but because I experienced fully the moment that it happened, I understood.
It changed my kids’ worlds, but because they were so young during the moment, they didn’t have the “why”. It was a good thing to share those moments with my son who is now old enough to understand.
I am determined to begin a mental list of other events that have changed our lives, for better or for worse, that we might not have fully explained the “why” behind the action. Our story is our legacy, and we must fully and completely pass it on to our kids. Even if those stories include one of the darkest days in our nation’s past.