Every year I dread 9/11. It’s a dark day that I hate to think about, much less speak about. It’s a national day of remembrance, but all I remember is the lost of a loved one — and the loss of my innocence. When I was a child I was ambushed with videos of the towers crumbling apart; the towers in which my loved ones worked.
Adults must take precaution and ready children before showing them graphic material.
It was September 11, 2001 and I was five years old. I was at pre-school, when a teacher frantically ran into my classroom, yelling to turn on the TV. Back then, TV to me was Barney, Arthur and the Magic School Bus. But at that moment, instead of seeing a big purple dinosaur on the screen, I looked on in shock as the Twin Towers came crumbling down. After that, a number of children, myself included, were called down to the office to get picked up by a guardian.
My mother worked on the 86th and 88th floors of one WTC. She works for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey as the Assistant Director of Construction. I used to visit her corner office often, and press myself up against her glass wall and look down at all the “ant” people as they came and went. Even with my fear of heights, the glass barrier always seemed so indestructible to me.
My mother was close with her coworkers, but there was one who was like a brother to her — my Uncle Carlos.
That day, my mom missed her train and arrived late to work. She had just entered the building when the first plane hit. Luckily, she managed to escape alive.
My Uncle Carlos wasn’t as lucky. He was in the elevator on his way up to his office when the plane hit. His funeral would be the first I would attend.
That day changed my life in many ways. It still affects me and my family to this day. Not only was losing him the first time I had witnessed death, but it was also the first day I felt truly scared. It was also during this time that I realized that I couldn’t rely on adults.
Much of this had to do with my teachers.
Being forced to watch my mother’s office building come down on live television was traumatizing. I simply sat there in horror as I watched those “indestructible glass walls” go down in flames.
I know that people react differently to times of crisis, but I wish my teachers would have taken into consideration that we were kids -- kids who potentially were watching their loved ones perish in the towers.
I try to make sense of my teacher’s decision to show us that news and wonder if it was right or not.
I’m sure that they were shocked by the terror attack and needed to see it for themselves. However, did a room full of five year olds who could potentially be directly related to those being attacked need to see it too?
Children will have to face harsh realities at some point of their lives, but as adults, we should always prepare them for that moment so that they may be able to live through it, and not become defined by it.
Contact opinion writer Caroline McNamara at firstname.lastname@example.org.