It’s hard for me to remember a time before 9/11, but I do remember it. My kids however, will never experience a pre-9/11 world. That hit me tonight as we got the first reports that the U.S. conducted a top-secret operation and killed Osama Bin Laden. The older two girls knew something big had happened, but didn’t really understand it.
As we waited for President Obama to address the nation, I asked the girls if they knew who Osama Bin Laden was. They both shook their heads no. I then tried as best as I could to explain in terms appropriate for an 8-year-old and 5-year old who he was and why U.S. Special Forces killed him. They got the point of planes crashing into buildings and that a man named Osama Bin Laden was a bad person. As I continued on with my explanation, Olivia started to get a confused look on her face, and Erin turned her attention to a barbie on the floor. I asked them if what I was telling them made any sense, and Olivia said a little bit, but she thought her teacher Maestro Jose might do a better job. Good to know her teacher is getting through to her.
Since the President’s address was delayed, we tried to get the girls to go to bed, but Olivia said she wanted to hear what President Barack Obama was going to say. Van and I relented, and allowed them to stay up past their bedtime to watch the historic speech.
While Van and I were riveted to the speech, Olivia and Erin ignored it. Even though they don’t understand it now, I know they will in the future. I think of them as I continue to watch the young crowds outside the White House, Ground Zero, and Times Square. Many of those people were the same age as Olivia is now during 9/11. The scenes are patriotic, and I can only pray they remain peaceful. The September 11th attacks brought Americans together, and a night like tonight shows people continue to come together and honor the 3,316 people killed on that awful and unforgettable day.
While Olivia and Erin didn’t know who Osama Bin Laden was until a few hours ago, they do now. It’s an important lesson, one to build on in the months and years to come.