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Remember to Stress the Heroics of America When Discussing 9/11 with Your Kids

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Parents may be tempted to shield their younger children from this week’s coverage of the 9/11 attacks’ anniversary.

Who wants to revisit that awful day, let alone explain the terrorists’ motives to children unable to grasp the horrors of modern warfare.

Turning off the TV news is a mistake. Children will find out about the anniversary coverage at school, through their friends or via social media. It’s far better for parents to frame the terrorist attacks from their loving perspective. They know the best methods for enlightening their kids while minimizing the grief.

More importantly, it lets them share how humanity rallied in the days after the Twin Towers crumpled.

The country changed on Sept. 11, 2001, but elements of our national character grew in ways to make every American proud both then and now.

The post-9/11 media coverage gave overdue thanks to the men and women who ran toward, not away, from dangerous terrain like Ground Zero. These first responders tended to the wounded, found survivors in the rubble and risked their personal safety by breathing air choked with potentially harmful debris.

Children old enough to handle a PG:13 movie could watch Oliver Stone’s “World Trade Center” to see recreations of that heroism.

Politicians who normally throw verbal daggers across the aisle dropped their partisan bickering. They stood on the Capitol steps to sing, “God Bless America” in a welcome sign of unity.

Celebrities gathered to stage The Concert for New York City on Oct. 20, 2001. The benefit, organized by Paul McCartney, featured the biggest names in music from across the globe including The Who, Billy Joel, Jay-Z, David Bowie, James Taylor and Mick Jagger.

The New York Yankees, baseball’s storied franchise, along with their Queens rivals the Mets, wore hats honoring the New York Police and Fire Departments when the sport resumed play.

Local communities likely have similar stories of people giving what they could to help those who lost so much that day. My future wife, then a volunteer with the Arlington, Va. Red Cross, suddenly found herself helping first responders, not people dealing with house fires, in the days after 9/11.

Her corporate job offered no schedule flexibility. That week, she was allowed to shape her own hours in order to help the cause. My wife says everyone, everywhere lent a hand during that emotional time. A local salon donated its services, including massage therapists to relieve the stresses of those helping the injured.

When the call went out for more socks, the next day the Red Cross got flooded with boxes overflowing with them.

These examples show how a community, and the nation at large, pooled its resources for the betterment of mankind. The attacks of Sept. 11 showcased the very worst of humanity. That shouldn’t be left out as you educate your children about what happened 13 years ago. By showing the love and commitment exhibited in its aftermath, children can focus on how our culture responded to the worst single-day tragedy on its soil.

Photo credit: slgckgc via flickr

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