Eleven Years Later . . .

“Mom, what happened to the Twin Towers?” asked Janie at  dinner this past Sunday.

I put down my fork, thinking about how to explain, and my mother-in-law stepped in.  “They flew two airplanes into them,” she said.


“Terrorists,” we both answered.


“Because they wanted to kill as many people as possible in as big a way as possible,” I said.  “So everyone would see.”

Her eyes went wide and her brown wrinkled.  “But why would they kill all those people?”

“So that everyone would pay attention.  They blamed out country for everything that was going wrong in the world, and they wanted everyone to know.”

“That’s not . . . why didn’t they just talk to us?”

“Because they’re mean,” said my mother-in-law.  “Mean and evil.”


“They wanted to scare us into doing what they wanted—so they would feel stronger,” I said.  “Like bullies.”

“Did it work?” she asked.

I hesitated again, but no one else spoke.

“They scared us,” I told my daughter, who was conceived in April of 2002.  “But they didn’t stop us.”

20 thoughts on “Eleven Years Later . . .

  1. I can’t imagine how difficult that would be to explain to a child. It’s hard enough to explain to someone who was a child at the time. They just weren’t old enough to really understand what happened.

  2. It’s so interesting to me when I try to explain something to my kids how by taking out all of the adult BS, we find ourselves seeing how not complicated it really is. At least I do. And I’m always amazed at how if seven year olds ran the world, they’d manage to figure out that bullies suck whether it’s them or us, and that talking is so much better than senseless death.

    • I imagine that for those who have such a deep connection to the city, the pain is even worse.

      I’m not sure, though, that it’s such a bad thing that the hurt is still so strong.

  3. You know old age has it’s advantages. After WWII, the holocaust, Korea, and then Vietnam, this particular horror story falls into a sort of perspective. After the 9/11 event, which cost over 3000 innocent lives, a war was unleashed which cost over 100,000 lives so far, many of them equally innocent. Who is the winner in all of this? The torn bodies and blasted minds keep stacking up. We hated the Japanese, now our best allies in the Pacific Rim, We lost 54,000 men in Vietnam. I am now wearing shirts made there. In our lifetimes we may yet be allied with the kin of the pilots of these planes that destroyed the towers.
    Where have all the young men gone……When will we ever learn…..

      • We don’t remember it the right way, that’s the problem. We tally up the wins and losses on a global scale and forget the individual stories of horror and heartbreak. If the suffering is not immediate and personal to us, it becomes this malleable abstract concept of something that happened somewhere else, in another reality, to other people’s families. It becomes political and not human.

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