Archive for September, 2014

THE CHILDREN OF 9/11

September 11, 2014 Comments Off on THE CHILDREN OF 9/11 General

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As the first plane hit the World Trade Center on 9/11, I was teaching an undergraduate class at the urban community college where my university offered an innovative program in teacher education. We had just started our first discussion when a late student arrived and announced that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center. We were all amazed at the news; I was hoping that it was an early-morning radio prank. We continued our class but were soon interrupted by a frantic employee of the college who burst into the room and instructed us all to leave immediately. He indicated that “planes were falling out of the sky all over America” and that all state and federal buildings were closing. My fearful students raced out of the room – many of them had young children at home. Once they were all gone I walked to my car, very troubled by what seemed to be happening. My two daughters, both young adults, were living in New York City at the time. It was a very beautiful day; I looked up at the blue and sunny sky  —  fearful that many people had died or would die soon.
When we returned to class a few days later, knowing full well the tragedy that had taken place, a sorrowful student told me that a relative of hers had died in the plane that crashed into the Pentagon – 11 year old Bernard Brown II. She later gave me a copy of the program from Bernard’s funeral, which outlined his many accomplishments. A serious student and athlete wearing his new Jordan Air sneakers on the plane, Bernard had been selected by his school to go on a National Geographic Society trip to the Channel Islands. I have kept Bernard’s funeral program and still share it with my students from time to time, reminding them of 9/11 and of the many children around the world who lose their young lives because of war and conflict. Even just one of these children is far too precious for us to lose. A total of eight child victims died on 9/11; every one of them was greatly loved and treasured by their families. Their loss is beyond measure.
Attending a 9/11 memorial service at my university early this morning, I was reminded anew that life only moves forward. Thirteen years have already passed since that terrible day! Even the two three-year-olds who died in the 9/11 planes would be past their 16th birthdays now – fully immersed in constructing their adult lives ahead. We can never bring these children back, but we can do a great deal for the children who are with us now. Maybe there are children in our own families who need more time and attention; very probably there are children in our communities who are sad or in trouble and need warm, caring adults in their lives. Today, in memory of the children who died on 9/11, let’s all reach out with love and compassion to a child who can be helped, or comforted, or encouraged – or even saved.

Written by Beatrice S. Fennimore a teacher educator focused on advocacy and social justice for all children