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What our children should know 21 years after 9/11


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Cerith Gardiner - published on 09/11/22

With a whole generation who weren't even born before the attacks, it's vital to share with them the events of September 11, 2001.

It is incredible to think that the 9/11 terrorist attacks happened 21 years ago today. It’s also mind-blowing to think that there’s a whole generation of children who weren’t even alive when it happened.

While our children will never feel the sense of shock, fear and anger that so many of us felt that day, it’s important to remind them of the horrific event for a number of reasons. First, that one day shaped so many lives and had an impact on society that still affects us today. But it’s also an important learning opportunity for our children. Here’s why and how.

To understand loss and sacrifice

One of the most difficult things to read after the attacks were the stories of those whose lives were lost, those who gave their lives for others, and the bravery shown by so many individuals.

These stories show the very best of humanity, and remind us that in the face of evil, our compassion for one another is so much stronger. To get this message across to your own (older) kids you could select a few stories from the attacks and focus on the strength and bravery of those involved.

You could, for example, share stories of the the first recorded victim, Fr. Mychal Judge, and how he died carrying out God’s work. His story is, in fact, similar to other members of the clergy who died in the service of God throughout history. It’s reassuring to know that men of the Church aren’t afraid to die, and will gladly sacrifice their lives for the sake of others.

The power in remembering

This may seem a little trite, but it’s important to emphasize the point. By remembering what happened we don’t just brush a tragedy under the carpet. As with any major event in history, we try and learn from what happened, both the positives and negatives.

Every year we make the effort to remember not just the event itself, but some of the people whose lives were lost or forever changed by the attacks. We can look at some of the 9/11 children who have gone on to live their lives in a way that would make their deceased parents proud.

This teaches our children that life does go on, that after tragedy there is hope, and we should always live with hope and faith in our hearts.

To have a renewed sense of gratitude

When people woke up the day after the attacks, they saw their lives in a very different way. There was a deep sense of horror, but also a feeling of gratitude to be alive. Parents clung to their kids. People didn’t take for granted that they would see their spouse or loved one at the end of the day. It was the most horrible kick in the face in a world where we take things for granted and become complacent. And we shouldn’t forget that.

While we don’t want to scare our children with all the gory details, it’s important to give them a reminder of how blessed we are. When talking about 9/11 with our children, we can offer up prayers for the victims, and say a prayer of gratitude for the lives we have today.

But don’t forget this …

After talking about 9/11 it’s also important to reassure our children. We don’t want them worrying that another attack is imminent. And this can be done by explaining some of the added measures the government has put in place to try and ensure public safety.

While we never know what God has in store for us, remind your children that He does have a plan, and so we are always safe in His hands.

9/11Catholic LifestyleEducation
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