To My Children Born After 9/11
On 9/11, I was in college. I didn’t become a mom until a few years later. Anyone who remembers 9/11 is probably at least 19 years old. The other day, I was taking my boys to Wendy’s for some frostys, and I started talking to them about 9/11 and how everything changed.
That got me thinking about what we can tell our children, the ones that don’t remember the world before everything changed. The ones for whom the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are the norm. The ones for whom terrorism has always been a known threat.
When I was in 1st grade, the Challenger exploded on live TV. I will remember that forever. When my parents were just becoming adults, Kennedy was shot. And those in college today might just remember their parents glued to the TV in September of 2011.
When you are a child, and a tragedy happens, you are usually aware that something is going on out of the norm. You might not even remember all the details of that day, but the event sticks with you. You rely on older generations to let you know what happened and what the tragedy meant.
As far as 9/11 is concerned, this is something that happened before my children were born. To them September 11th wasn’t something they lived through, it was something they were told about. 9/11 is something they can look up in their history books and listen to stories from those who were there.
These children, these teenagers, these kids, they don’t know the world in which something like 9/11 didn’t even seem possible. On September 10, 2001, so many of us went to bed expecting the next day to be a typical September day. 9/11 was the phone number you called when you had an emergency; it wasn’t an emergency on its own.
For those in the military, 9/11 changed the directions of their careers. I can’t imagine what my military spouse life would have looked like had 9/11 never happened. If service members had never gone to Iraq or Afghanistan. If there had never been a surge or deployment extensions.
The wars my husband has been in have changed him, changed us, and changed our whole lives. I tried to explain this to my boys. That their Dad, he is a big part of what happened after 9/11. That if that day hadn’t happened, their lives would look very different.
I explained to them that the way to board an aircraft is different. When I was in college, my parents would wait for me at the gate when I flew home for visits. This is such a small change, but I can’t help remembering how things used to be. From having to take your shoes off to being careful about which liquids you bring, flying will never be the same again.
But for my kids? This is the way things are. This is the way they have always been for them. They don’t remember a time before all of this.
So when I talk to my children about 9/11, I want them to know that something we didn’t think would happen did. That we realized the horror that others could commit. That we had to make plans as a country to work towards keeping everyone safe and making sure what happened in New York City, never happened again.
I hope that I can take my boys to NYC someday. I have never been myself, but when we go, I would want them to see the 9/11 memorial. I would want to share more about that day. I want them to learn about the first responders and the heroes that emerged after it happened. I want them to know that history is important and what we learn from the past is what will help us move forward in the future.