In the past I had never really been sure how to remember or commemorate 9-11. I usually put out a flag, say a prayer, and go about my day. I always remember the rush of feelings I had on 9-11-01.
At the time I was a newly wed, living in Brazil and teaching English to business professionals. I was in the teacher breakroom, catching up on email when a fellow American teacher approached me and said, "The World Trade Center was hit." I thought she meant the one in Sao Paulo. I had driven by it several times. I was concerned but not devestated.
Then she continued to explain as she took my hand and let me to a small TV propped up on a small stand in the upper corner of the room. I watched the planes hit the towers, over ....and over....and over...
I was speechless. The other Brazilian teachers and staff made kind comments like, "I'm so sorry Kelly." or "It is terrible what happened to your country today."
Never have I missed my homeland like I did at that moment. I wanted so badly to be "home" and grieve with my countrymen. I felt so alone in my sadness at what had happened. My Brazilian husband, while supportive and caring, just couldn't relate to the sense of loss I felt. I went home that night, and searched our little apartment for the small American flag that I had packed before returning to Brazil after our honeymoon. I removed it from the pole and carefully sewed it to the backpack I used for lugging all my teacher supplies around the city with me every day. As I sewed it on to my backpack, I wondered if I was making myself an international target by identifying with a country that was the aim of so much hate and anger. But I didn't really care. I remember feeling oddly proud and yet slightly apprehensive as I walked the streets with my American flag sewn on my backpack. When ever I crossed a fellow American, they would notice my flag and offer encouraging words.
Anyway, a lot of healing has happened since then. And this year I just felt like it was time to my 6yo in on some of what happened that tragic day, but in a non-feaful way.
So, on the recommendation of some great moms that belong to the WorkBox yahoo group, I got hold of a book called The Man Who Walked Between the Towers
It was a great book and a fun way to introduce the twin towers to my girls. Then we read September 11: A Primary Source History (In Their Own Words)
for the information I needed to help explain what happened on 9-11.
We did this during table time (the group time we have before doing workboxes). Of course, I was crying as I shared some of what that day had meant to me. My 6yo seemed interested, but not deeply concerned and a bit puzzled at my emotion. I didn't really go into it a whole lot or explain my tears in great depth.
But I am glad that I opened her eyes a tad to the reality of 9-11 and I'm sure we'll touch on it again in future years.
By the way, reading this book inspired my husband and I to watch the movieMan on Wire
It was great! My hands were sweaty the whole time watching this tight rope walker! Lots of history to be learned in this movie. There was one small part that was TOTALLY inappropriate for kids and it completely blindsided me. I was NOT expecting it. So...beware.