An Open Letter to My Daughters on the Anniversary of 9/11
As parents, we want to shield our children from life's tragedies. Unfortunately, that's impossible.
To My Sweethearts,
When you read about September 11th one day, about everything that happened and the related aftermath, it will feel so distant and be so crippling to understand as it is for me, still. And yet you will be oddly connected to this event because you are New Yorkers.
You will likely ask where I was on that fated day, and I will tell you I was walking into work (late, as usual) when the first plane hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center. I learned of it almost immediately as I was at CBS News at the time, and there were televisions around everywhere. We stood in front of screens in disbelief as to what must have been a horrible accident, only to realize when the second plane hit the South Tower that it was no mistake.
You will want to know if I knew anyone who died that day, and I did, my loves. I will try to explain what losing a friend is like in the most light-soaked way, but it will be difficult. I will not tell you about what that realization is like when the phone keeps ringing and you understand, finally, that the person who’d left you a message just a few days before will not be picking up.
You will need to know about the aftermath; about how life has changed. Those answers are, without a doubt, endless. Life goes back to normal yet is forever different at the same time. I wish I could explain it better, but sadly, it is almost inevitable that you will experience something similar in your lifetime. Then, you will “get it”, and it will break my heart. If ONLY I could shield horrible things from your line of vision and consciousness… if only.
But know this, my beautiful daughters: there will always be good in this world; there will always be people that run TOWARDS danger to help others, to give of themselves what they can. Do not dwell on violence and hate but instead focus on all the good in the world, of which there is plenty.
Do that and a crippling day will become a little easier to bear.
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”
- Fred Rogers
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