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On Taking Your Kids to the 9/11 Memorials

We live 50 miles outside D.C., but we haven’t gone to the Pentagon Memorial yet. Our oldest daughter lives in NYC, but we haven’t been to Ground Zero with her siblings. I am a founding donor for the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville, but we haven’t made the trek there either. This piece by Judy Berna from Wired has strengthened my resolve that we need to rectify this sooner rather than later.

Our children have seen all three crash sites from 9/11 and have clear memories of seeing the bombing site in Oklahoma City. It’s not that we have a morbid fascination with tragedy. I take my children to these sites so they can feel history. I spent my childhood reading history in books and never really connecting it to the outside world. My husband and I wanted our children to hear about something that happened in our country and say, “I know about that. I saw that monument. I stood by that fountain. I rubbed a name off that long black wall. I gazed over that field with my family. I know about that.”

…It’s important that we remember. Not to dredge up the horrible acts that caused our grief. But to never forget the people whose lives were cut short, and the families whose dinner tables will never again be complete. Don’t forget to tell your children the stories, this week, and for years to come. It’s their history too. Take them to the walls. Walk them through the gardens. Let them touch the cold steel monuments. They need to understand how important it is, how incredibly important it is, that we never forget. And that through all tragedy, life goes on.



My husband and sons, looking out over the crash site in Shanksville, PA. Talking about what happened.

Judy Berna’s husband with three of their children at the field in Shanksville.


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