This afternoon, our middle school held a Moment of Silence in recognition of 9/11. During the "silence," a student in our 6th grade classroom was laughing, and afterwards, Mrs. K (one of the co-teachers I work with) gently admonished him for making light of a very serious event. A little girl named "Sharon" then raised her hand and asked, "What is '9/11?'"
And then it hit us; these kids were only four years old eight years ago, on that fateful day. For the next 45 minutes, we explained what happened and answered questions from our students. Here follows some of the kids' questions and comments....
One of the boys; Mike, shared an overview of the events that day. He was brilliant. When asked how he knew so much about 9/11, he smiled sheepishly and said that he watches The History Channel a lot. (My heart lifted for this kid, because earlier in the day, his chin down, he nearly whispered his score on a reading assignment as, "62." I was so happy that he was able to redeem himself in front of his peers.) Mike explained (very simply, yet clearly) about Osama Bin Laden's role in 9/11.
From a sweet, sincere boy, "Wasn't the name of that group "The Alpaca," or something like that?"
Um..."I think you mean Al Queda." (Imagine how hard it was not to bust a gut on that one!)
Sharon, eyebrows furrowed, asked, "Why would anyone do that?!" and a gem of a little guy answered,
"Because they hate our liberty."
I got goosebumps.
Sharon asked later, "Could this El Paso guy (or whatever he's called) already be dead?"
Another boy asked, "Didn't they close down that green lady after 911?"
That's when I remembered the Weekly Reader reading assignment earlier in the day, which had an article that discussed the Statue of Liberty and how the viewing deck in her crown would soon be re-opened.
"Yes, they did close down part of the Statue of Liberty after 9/11."
Then someone asked, "If it was so bad, why are we having Friday Fun Night today, on 9/11?" That lead into a summary of the effects of 911; how it brought our country closer together and that our reaction in the days, weeks, and months following the tragedy showed the terrorists that they could not destroy the spirits of the American people. We also explained that the heroes of Flight 93 would not want children to stop having fun because of terrorists. They lost their lives to protect our president and lives of others and would be happy to know that eight years later, their sacrifice is remembered and that kids are safe, living happy and carefree lives.
Another wide-eyed student then raised her hand and said earnestly, "Imagine what our country would be like if we didn't all work together...."
Sometimes, the kids are the teachers...