Bells will toll and sirens will sound and tears will make their way down the faces of those whose family members were on the planes and in the buildings and on the streets on that grim, fateful, unforgettable day
The dead will be remembered and the heroes will be honored and presidents and mayors and many more people, big both in stature and in heart, will lay wreaths and extend sincere expressions of gratitude to the men and women who selflessly dug in to rescue and recover and clean and console
Many will recall how clear and blue and perfect so perfect were the skies, and how frighteningly awful was the juxtaposition of a landscape of bodies and crumbled buildings and the film of light gray soot against the most beautiful skyline in the world
A million someones will speak of the smell and the fear the dead phones the sight of a mass of shell-shocked bodies, drifting Zombie-style over the Brooklyn Bridgethe tattered pictures of the missing hanging precariously off walls from South Street Seaport to Harlem words begging, pleading for information on the whereabouts of the subjects of those pictures, months after it was clear they were gone from here
Low flying planes will still shake the senses former frequent flyers still will suck on valium to make it from one airport to the other without breaking down we’ll all take off our shoes and toss our water and submit to pat downs and walk through x-ray machines, not-so-subtle reminders of how terrorists, threatened by our way of life, forever changed them
And at 8:46 a.m. and 9:03 a.m. and 9:37 a.m. and 10:03 a.m. the times that mark the impacts of the four planes there will be silence.
Peace be still.
So that I can tell my daughters the story of 9/11. Hip them to how it was on September 10, 2001. When the world respected our country and we didn’t study war, and soldiers came home safe and our coffers were full and budgets were (kind of) balanced and Congress actually cared about this country and everybody in it and the oldest among us could count on social security to live and the most vulnerable among us didn’t have to fall and the workers among us could look forward to paychecks with enough money to buy groceries and school clothes for the babies. When owning a house was the cornerstone of the American Dream (not an unbelievable nightmare) and health benefits were worth more than the face value of a coupon in the Sunday paper, and employees had rights. Hell, jobs.
Mostly, I want to tell my daughters of a time when we waved our flag not as a thumb in the eyes of our haters, but with pride and respect for our country our way of life, our liberty. Our incessant pursuit of happiness.
This is the America I want to remember.
This is the America I wish for my babies.
This is what we need to get back to.
Or else, the tolling of the bells, the laying of the wreaths, the prayers, the moments of silence for the innocents they will all be in vain.
This post appears on The Parenting Post on Parenting.com, where there are lots of articles that give sound advice on how to talk to your kids about 9/11 and other scary events. Check out:
- Burning Qur’ans, Zealots, and A Lesson on Tolerance: The Best Way To Honor the Victims of September 11th
- Talking to Your Kids About the Tough Stuff
- 5 Tips on Talking to Kids About Scary News