United in Courage & Grief 
I believe that children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
Let the children's laughter
Remind us how we used to be
-Whitney Houston
Remembering Our Children in this Tragedy

Image - www.libertyunites.org

Unable to sleep that Tragic Tuesday Morning I sat stunned and shocked watching the events unfold and was "live" with East coast time as the World Trade Towers collapsed. My thoughts watching the towers being hit and then collapsing were for those caught in the buildings--wondering if any of them managed to make it out alive. As with so many others around the world, I have been struggling to make some sense of these tragic events that resulted in the senseless loss of so many. It wasn't until later that I began to think of the many secondary victims especially the children...

As the reports of the victims came out we discovered there was a group of children from Washington D.C. who were on their first plane ride. We also learned of the "Attack on America" Orphans, children who had lost one or both parents in the destruction of the World Trade Towers, the Plane Crashes and the Crash at the Pentagon. We heard of the children who had been attending school near the World Trade Center who had to be evacuated from their classrooms and others who watched from their windows as the events unfolded with a "front row" seat to the destruction. Many have struggled during these events trying to figure out what to tell the children of this country and around the world who watched these horrific events.

For the children who have lost parents in this tragedy we are fortunate to have A Letter to the Youngest Victims of the Terrorist Attack, written by a child survivor of another national tragedy. We have tried to provide some information in the section on Helping Children to Cope with Tragedy to help parents and educators. There are also suggestions for How Children can Help on the section on Ways of Coping then Helping.

We have also seen hope for the future in the deeds of our children--those who are trying to help by sending letters of thanks to fire fighters and to the President, those who are sending in their allowances for the relief funds or who are starting fund-raisers themselves as well as the many unsung good deeds that are happening in response to this event.

One of the early musical tributes that reminded me of the children was sung by Mandy Patinkin at one of the Interfaith East Coast Church Memorial services. He sung two very powerful songs. The first "You Have to Be Carefully Taught" a song written by Rogers and Hammerstein in 1949 from "South Pacific" dealing with the topic of prejudice.

You have to be taught
Before it's too late.
Before you are six or seven or eight
to hate all the people your relatives hate.
You have to be carefully taught.
-Oscar Hammerstein, 1949 South Pacific

He also sang the song, "Children will Listen" written by Steven Sondheim from the 1987 play "Into the Woods." These songs in combination emphasized the importance of what we are teaching our children.

Careful the things you say
Children will listen
Careful the things you do
Children will see and learn
Children may not obey
But children will listen

Children will look to you
For which way to turn

To learn how to be
Careful before you say
Listen to me
Children will listen

Careful the things you say
Careful the tale you tell
Children will listen

-Steven Sondheim, 1987 Into the Woods

These songs in combination with Gandhi's powerful words "We must be the change we want in the world" emphasize the importance of what we are teaching our children. If we truly want to be the change we want in the world, perhaps the focus should be on teaching them tolerance and peace.

If we are to reach real peace in this world and if we are to carry on a real war against war,
we shall have to begin with children; and if they will grow up in their natural innocence,
we won't have to struggle; we won't have to pass fruitless idle resolutions,
but we shall go from love to love and peace to peace,
until at last all the corners of the world are covered with that peace and love
for which consciously or unconsciously the whole world is hungering."
-Mohandas Mahatma Gandhi

Thankfully my young 18-month-old daughter is much too young to understand what has been going on except that the news coverage is not "Elmo" or "Ernie." She picked up on the anxiety, but her needs for reassuring hugs, helped to reassure us. I am grateful for her presence, especially during the early shock and disbelief phases, as my daily reminder of reasons to keep going and keep moving. Despite my anxiety and fears over the event, it appears that my second pregnancy is growing and thriving--a clear indicator in this time of national crisis that life does indeed go on.

...because of this tragedy. We're a softer people...
we realize now our vulnerabilities in a way that make us appreciate the fragility of life,
that make us kinder to each other.
We're hugging our kids a little more tightly.
-Marianne Williamson
Other Resources and Information:
United in Courage and Grief - Introduction Page
Why does my heart feel so bad?
What is Different about this Event?
The Importance of Telling the Story
Wake-up Call for the World
Health Concerns for Witnesses
Blessings, Lyrics, Poems & Quotes
Remembering Our Children
Helping Children to Cope with Tragedy
More Resources
Ways of Coping then Helping
Creatively Expressing Grief
Share your thoughts in the new Message Forum Transformations on the Journey
Page posted October 7, 2001.
In Memory of all those lost and forever missing from the events on September 11, 2001, the day our world changed.
The World Peace image was created by Moss Mallory Interactive. Available at: http://www.freeUSgraphics.com/
The ribbon art was created by Alon Cohen. Available at: http://people.bu.edu/xrpnt/ribbons/
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