by Kristen Bagwell
There are days that everyone remembers and for Americans, September 11, 2001 is absolutely one of those days. I can tell you precisely where I was (at work), what I was doing (checking my hotmail account - oops), and what happened next. It was my manager's birthday, and that seemed to make the day even worse, somehow. We'd planned a girls' dinner that night and no one knew what to say; we were all in shock.
Now, eleven years later, we are finally remembering 9/11 without having to worry about the person behind the violence; Osama bin Laden was found and killed last May, 2011. It's difficult to understand how violence leads to more violence, which in turn leads to an increased sense of security...now imagine explaining that to a child.
- The September 11 attacks were a series of four suicide attacks that were committed in the United States on September 11, 2001.
- The attacks were intended to strike the areas of New York City and Washington, DC.
- On that Tuesday morning, 19 terrorists from the Islamist militant group al-Qaeda hijacked four passenger jets.
- The hijackers intentionally piloted two of those planes, American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175, into the North and South towers of the World Trade Center complex in New York City. Both towers collapsed within two hours.
- The hijackers also intentionally crashed American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia.
- The fourth hijacked jet, United Airlines Flight 93, was intended to hit the United States Capitol Building in Washington, DC. The plane crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania after its passengers attempted to take control of the jet from the hijackers.
- Cleanup of the World Trade Center site was completed in May 2002, and the Pentagon was repaired within a year.
- Numerous memorials were constructed, including the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York, the Pentagon Memorial, and the Flight 93 National Memorial in Pennsylvania.
- The memorial One World Trade Center is expected to be completed at ground zero in New York by 2013.
When discussing violent topics in the media, like 9/11 or the movie theater shootings in Colorado, the AACAP recommends following these guidelines:
- Create a time and place for children to ask their questions. Don't force children to talk about things until they're ready.
- Remember that children tend to personalize situations. For example, they may worry about friends or relatives who live in a city or state associated with incidents or events.
- Help children find ways to express themselves. Some children may not be able to talk about their thoughts, feelings, or fears. They may be more comfortable drawing pictures, playing with toys, or writing stories or poems directly or indirectly related to current events.
- Ask the child what he/she has heard and what questions he/she may have .
- Provide reassurance regarding his/her own safety in simple words emphasizing that you are going to be there to keep him/her safe.
- Look for signs that the news may have triggered fears or anxieties such as sleeplessness, fears, bedwetting, crying, or talking about being afraid.
- Use words your child can understand; make your response age-appropriate. Beware of too much information!
- Be honest.
- Explain and repeat. If your child continues to ask the same question, he or she may be asking for reassurance; be patient.
- Acknowledge your childs reactions and feelings. Let them know that their concerns and questions are important to you.
- Be consistent and reassuring; do not be unrealistic.
- Try to teach tolerance and explain prejudice rather than condemn or stereo type a group of people.
- Children watch and learn - ensure that your response to these events is consistent with your message to your children.
- Don't over burden your children with your own concerns.
CBS News reported over 3000 children under 18 lost parents during the 9/11 events, and 108 were born after the tragedy to single-family homes. One of them, Nicholas Gorki, is one of them. Last year, in a memorial service, he said "To my dad Sebastian Gorki, who I never met because I was in my mom's belly, I love you father...I love you for the idea of having me. You gave me the gift of life. I wish you could be here to enjoy it with me."
Hug those you love a little tighter today as we remember 9/11 and the ways it changed our nation.