Sunday, February 21, 2010

Reflections on Teaching Our Children About September 11

The Town of Windermere's 9-11 Memorial. The idea for using steel from one of the fallen Twin Towers to commemorate those who lost their lives came from Boy Scout Jeff Cox.

The anguish of September 11, 2001 flooded back as the Town of Windermere yesterday dedicated Florida's first memorial--a chunk of steel from one of the Twin Towers.

I brought two of my children, Melissa, 5, and Max, 6, to start learning. My lesson: some people want to hurt the United States because it stands for freedom and democracy. But many protect us.  The photographs of a firefighter with a mustache, placed on the memorial by family members who loved him, transfixed my children. The concept of selfless sacrifice is a profound one. Bravery is easier to understand at their age.

As I told WKMG-TV Channel 6, we want our children to grow into citizens who love America and what it represents. WKMG's camera captured Melissa asking me questions.

"Daddy, were you even alive when this happened?"

"Yes, I was."

"Were you a baby?"

"No, I was not a baby.  I was all grown up."

"Did you get to see it?"

"Yes, I was watching it on TV."

While we bear witness for our children, we must teach beyond the difficult images they will one day encounter on the internet. Windermere placed the Memorial midway between the library and Town Hall--institutions representing learning and democracy.  The Memorial's simplicity and beautiful small town America setting make it ideal for the teaching to begin and to continue.