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Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11, as a Mother

The school I taught at does this really lovely 9/11 remembrance ceremony every year. As teachers, we were expected to spend the day discussing, teaching, remembering with our students.

I will never forget my first year, trying to plan lessons for that September day. My students that year were babies that had been born in 2003 and 2004, years after the attacks had happened. I remember staring at my blank lesson plan book, totally stuck. How do you explain an event that changed a child's life before their life had even begun?

And today, I sit here with my own babies - babies born a whole decade after the tradgedy that changed our nation - and I revisit those very same feelings, only magnified through the heart of a mother. I know that one day, my babies will learn about what happened on September 11 of 2001. I know that they will have questions.

How do you gently explain a hatred so big to a person so little?

How do you express the magnitude of an entire nation, 300 MILLION people, mourning together?

What do I tell them? I was only 15 when it happened, a freshman in Coach Hauck's US History class. I couldn't begin to comprehend what it meant. At 25, I'm still not sure that I fully understand.

I have no idea what I will say when the time comes. There are books and websites and videos that are geared towards teaching children, but I don't know what, if any of it, I will use. But I do hope that I can approach the subject with delicate words and a grace that will make them understand but not afraid. I hope they can take away the lesson that hate will never win. I hope that they gain an immense appreciation for the men and women who serve our country. I hope that I can teach them to say "thank you" to those in Army fatigues, to stand up straight when the National Anthem is played, to place their hands on their hearts when they say the Pledge and, most importantly, to understand why we do these things.

I want them to know that not only are they lucky to be alive, but that they are lucky to be American.

We will always remember.

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