Thursday, September 11, 2008

Teaching Children About 9/11

One of the few devastating dates in American history that will forever be burned in our history books and in our hearts and minds is Sept. 11.

Today, many are reliving the nightmare of seven years ago and are sharing personal stories of where they were when they discovered that their nation was being attacked and what they were doing at that very moment.

But there are a group of Americans who do not know what happened on Sept. 11 because they were either too young to remember or comprehend the day’s events or were not even born.

That is why it’s important that we teach America’s children and youth about the importance of this day and what it truly means to be an American, with all of the glories, sorrows, duties and responsibilities that are attached to being a citizen of this great nation.

While young children may not fully understand the complexities of the horrific events that occurred or how it changed our lives or forced this country to go into war with the enemy, they still need to know the importance of what went on.

Explaining it in simple ways that children can understand will help them grasp the meaning of 9/11. While just labeling “terrorists” as “bad guys,” may seem like sugarcoating what they truly are, it will help a 6-year-old boy or girl to know what happened.

Some parents will feel that explaining to a young child that planes were used to destroy buildings or to kill thousands of innocent people is too harsh, then simply saying that the “bad guys” attacked this country might be enough to satisfy their curiosity until they are older to understand.

But children should also learn about the heroism that was displayed by the passengers and crew on Flight 93 and how their sacrifice saved countless lives. They are the embodiment of what it means to be an American and to be a hero.

Yes, the details of what happened in Shanksville, Pa., are not pleasant and it will be hard to explain it in children-friendly terms, but it simply needs to be taught to the children. It is a critical piece of education for them.

Just like it is important to explain to them how this country came together on 9/11 and how people, total strangers really but Americans nonetheless, from different states where going into New York City and Washington, D.C., to help with the rescue and relief operations.

Children need to learn about these modern-day heroes, because they are as legendary as the citizens who came together and fought against tyranny and for independence more than 200 years ago.

We must never forget what happened on this date and it is our duty that the next generation of this country does not forget either.