Zac is rolling on homeschooling. He did his first real assignment today for his Contemporary World History class. It was about the Trade Center bombings on 9/11. In typical Zac fashion, he wasn’t impressed.
“Why is this such a big deal? Why won’t they put up the pictures of the planes hitting the buildings, only the Pentagon? Are they afraid it will be too scary for us?” This, from the boy who battles online with creepers and suchlike on a daily basis.
“Plus, this happened more than 10 years ago,” he countered. An eternity, when you’re thirteen.
I took a deep breath. I vividly remember Zac being nearly 2 when it happened. I watched it on TV from my mom’s house in Portland, the planes hitting the buildings over and over again. Peter Jennings narrated and kept us up to date on new developments. I cried. Zac, too little to understand, hung around, puzzled, finally finding some toys to play with.
I searched for the right words. I am no expert.
“First, this does matter. A lot. This was the first terrorist attack on American soil. We could do nothing to stop it. We watched the planes crashing into the buildings over and over again. Fathers and mothers and kids weren’t going to make it home that night, nor ever. The few who escaped ran down the street, on fire. Then, the heroes rushed in – firefighters, police, S.W.A.T. Yes, it’s a big deal. So put down your sarcasm and read about it. It changed everything.”
I couldn’t keep from tearing up. I apologized for my display of emotion. I didn’t want it to distract from him getting the importance of the horrific event. I don’t have any other wrenching national tragedy during my lifetime to point back to. I hope to never have another.
I should have mentioned the plane that crashed in a Pennsylvania field; they all died, every passenger. My facts weren’t totally correct, either: this was the worst terrorist attack in my memory, but by no means the first. That honor belongs to someone who killed Elijah P. Lovejoy in 1837, according to Wikipedia.
I told him a whole national agency formed out of this incident. Our country changed forever. I told him it used to be the easiest thing, traveling by plane. Fun, too. But now…security takes up the majority of your time. Screenings and more screenings. Pat-downs. Random luggage searches. All of this to keep it from happening again. Ever.
Zac peered at me. He didn’t like my tone. I tried to keep it respectful – he’s very sensitive to that – but he needs to know. He was alive then. With less than one week until the anniversary of 9/11, even if I didn’t get it exactly right, it matters.
It still does.