My older son does not remember, which means my younger one doesn’t either. Cary was seven at the time. Danny was five. It was a startlingly beautiful day with the kind of blue September sky that makes you ache with joy. The schools here made the decision to not disclose the news, and to keep the kids for the full day — although it was an ‘early release’ day, here in Newton. Parents told their kids the news later.
I was meeting with a fellow gardener in her home — planning updates to the foundation beds at Bowen Elementary. Her husband called and said he was coming home and to turn on the news. And we sat and we watched, dumbfounded, shocked, in horror. I’ll admit it was the first time I’d ever heard Osama bin Laden’s name, which my friend uttered as an early and correct assumption of blame.
I watched the towers come down in real time.
When the kids were in elementary school we did not watch the news for the usual reasons — so those endless loops of footage that many people watched in slack-jawed disbelief did not air in our house. We went camping in Western Mass. that weekend, imposing a further media blackout (though Ken and I sat in the minivan with the radio on a few times and drove into North Adams to get a newspaper). So it is no wonder they don’t remember… but still, it shocks me a little.
But of course, not as much as the events themselves.
This week for social studies, Danny had to write about a historical event that happened in his lifetime. He has three giant ones to choose from: September 11, President Obama’s election, and the financial meltdown of ’08… At this age (13), they don’t quite realize how big these things are.
Sadly, they will. And even more sad to me, I suspect that the longest lasting effects (at least in those families that did not lose a family member on 9/11) will spring from the financial meltdown.