“What’s the date today?” my older daughter asked.
“September 10,” I said. “Tomorrow is Sept. 11.”
“Is that 9/11?” she asked.
“Yes, you’ll probably talk about it tomorrow in school,” I said.
“Again?” she asked. “Are they going to read all those names in New York again? Why do they do that every year?”
“So we never forget.”
It’s hard for me to fathom that the defining moment of my lifetime means very little to my daughter. It’s just something she talks about in history class.
It’s hard for me to remember that she was three months old when the twin towers came crashing down, shattering thousands of lives and changing the course of a nation. The actual event is as distant to her as the American Revolution. She doesn’t remember the horror. She doesn’t remember the fear. And she doesn’t remember the days when the people of this nation drew together to remember what made them proud to be Americans in the first place.
I can’t make her understand what it means. I can give her all the facts. I can list off the numbers of dead. I can tell her the stories of people who did courageous things on those days. I can tell her about the brave men and women on Flight 93 that saved the nation from even more carnage. I can tell her about Rick Rescorla who saved thousands that day, then died trying to save more. But I can’t make her feel the emotions. I can’t put in perspective for her how the world changed in an instant. I can’t describe for her what it feels like to have security snatched away in a horrifying moment of terror.
And I don’t want to. I want my kids to know what happened on this day 11 years ago. I don’t want them to ever forget the lives lost. I don’t want them to forget to stop and honor those men and women who went to work or got on a plane that day and never came home — simply because they were Americans. But I also don’t want them to focus on the terror. I don’t want them to be afraid to live their lives. I don’t want them to hold safety more dear than freedom.
Because if I do, then the evil that was done that day 11 years ago wins. If I focus on making my kids understand the terror of that day, then Satan gets a foothold. Fear is powerful. It can keep us from striking out in the direction God wants us to go. Fear is not from God. Even on the darkest days, like 9/11, God is bigger than our fear.
And that’s what I want my kids to know about 9/11. God is bigger than that. Even in the middle of the nightmare of that day, God showed up. He was there. He knew what was happening. And He is bigger than the events that happened that day. I don’t know why evil was allowed to carry the day 11 years ago, but I do know that miracles happened even in the midst of all that evil.
God is never absent. He’s never cowed by evil. He’s never vanquished by Satan’s plans.
So, today as we take time to remember the nearly 3,000 men, women and children who died 11 years ago today, remember that while you can’t make your kids understand the emotion of the day, you can help them understand that God is bigger than evil and that He shows up in the midst of darkness. Because that’s a lesson that will see them through their own darkest days.
Linking up today with Time-Warp Wife.