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How do I explain 9/11 to a 7 and 8 year old?

I’m no longer prone to blogging sentimentally anymore, but my mood demands it.

Today is the 9th anniversary of that horrible day. I’m at a loss to explain to my children accurately what happened that morning and convey to them how the whole world changed due to a group of madmen.

The closest I can get to explaining to my children is this.

9 years ago today, your father was sitting at his desk when the first plane struck the north tower. I was in 4 WTC when the flaming debris came down. At once the whole floor ran to the fire exit and we left the building.

We had no idea what was going on. We thought it was an accident and some of us wanted to know when we could return to our desks. Your mother was very pregnant with you my son, so I walked to her work place on 16th Street.

I was nearby when the second plane hit. That was more terrifying than the first crash. Now we all realized that this was not an accident.

I was on 13th Street when the first tower went down. On 16th Street I was desperately trying to get your mother to walk downstairs to me on the street when the second tower collapsed.

I did not witness either tower falling; the first one I could not see from where I was. Memories are long and I purposely averted my eyes the second time.

Since your mother was pregnant, we were driving and parking in her building everyday. That was a real blessing; I do not think a heavily pregnant woman could easily get out of Manhattan that day. We took three people with us and headed up to the Willets Avenue Bridge.

From there we made our way home to Queens and to your grandparents without any trouble at all.

How important is that day? Think about it this way: those terrorists succeeded in murdering almost 3,000 people. More people continue to die due to health issues from the aftermath.

If things were a little different, if I were working is another building as I had before, they would have succeeded in murdering your father.

That’s a little deep for talking to a 7 and 8 year old. I hope they can fully understand someday.

That was 9 years ago. Since then using terrorists as an excuse we’ve made mistakes and the world has not improved much. I am not referring just to the wars, I am talking about the Security-Before-Freedom mantra that our government chants.

I can summarize those mistakes simply: the death of any of us, including myself, is the worse thing that can happen to us and our family. It is not the worse thing that can happen to our country.

We make compromises due to an imaginary threat. We offer ourselves to suspicion and “show us your papers” and we’re not making the world safer. We’re just surrendering ourselves to more control and less responsibility.

It saddens me that we still have not rebuilt the towers. Yes, 7 WTC is standing, but our leaders measure the success with meetings and agreements to do things. They do not measure success by opening more buildings or completed memorials.

People bicker about book burnings, community centers, wars and the economy. We’ve accomplished a lot of blame but can’t fully agree to reconstructing a set of buildings.

We live in the greatest country in the world and our successes are monumental. Unfortunately our failures are huge too and those worry me for my children.

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Jan Dembowski