Remembering 9/11- What to tell your kids?

As a parent, how do you go about explaining the events of 9/11 to your kids?

I’ll never forget that terrible day of Sept. 11, 2001. We had just returned home from a trip with family including my one year old son to Nags Head, N.C. That particular week, there were multiple shark attacks along the coastline just down the beach from where we were staying. I thought that was scary.

That beautiful sunny Sept. 11th morning, I began to unpack and get things back in order and as usual was watching the Today show. When they cut in with coverage of the first tower being hit by a plane, I thought to myself, “Wow that’s odd, it’s such a beautiful day. How could a plane crash into a huge building like that? “

As an NBC reporter was talking about the  World Trade Center, the second plane crashed into the other tower and that’s when my gut told me this was no accident. There was no denying this was deliberate. In fact, that’s just what Matt Lauer said on the news.

I called my husband who had gone to the post office to pick up our mail and told him what had happened. I couldn’t believe the idea someone would intentionally fly a plane, with themselves and innocent people, into a building. My husband came home and we both watched with dread and horror as the events unfolded: the pentagon hit, other planes were unaccounted for. We would later find out about the one in Pennsylvania.

I called my sister, who was in a panic. Her husband worked as a defense contractor right near the Pentagon. The phones were all tied up and she was unable to reach him for hours. My husband's brother and sister-in -aw were flying that morning to Orlando, FL, during the attacks.

Once we had accounted for everyone in our immediate family, I felt a slight sense of relief. However, living so close to the nations Capital was unnerving to say the least. Were all the planes accounted for? Could there be a bomb headed for Washington, D.C.?

I remember feeling like a bad mother as I sat there in front of the television and watched the news in horror as my son, only one year’s old, was playing around my feet. He didn’t understand why his mommy was crying. I remember thinking to myself how this was our  generations Pearl Harbor Day- “Day that will live in Infamy.” And of course, that’s what it has become.

I knew the day would come when my children would start asking questions and this weekend was it. With the 9/11 10 year Anniversary coverage, my 11 year-old was asking some tough questions:  

“Mom, why would someone fly a plane into a building?” “Wait, how many planes crashed?”

“Why would they kill all of those people?”

When he asked “How did they know to have so many cameras to record what happened?”

It dawned on me that to him, 9/11 happened ages ago in a long ago “ancient time.” My seven year old daughter would just say “I hate the news, let’s not watch any more news.”

At that point, I turned the TV off. Of course, the toughest question of all was this: “Can it happen again to us?”

Here are some links I found to be helpful:








Carrie Hilliard September 19, 2011 at 08:43 PM
One more resource for tough topics for you: Nancy Lincoln- Reynold's Associate Pastor at Woods Memorial Presbyterian Church.


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