What my grandchildren knew about 9/11


A few weeks after 9/11, Lyn and I went to the Guggenheim Museum with our grandchildren, ages 5 and 6. In the gift shop is a poster with the proposed Frank Gehry building scheduled to go up along the East River. I say that it won’t be built anytime soon. There’s no money for it now, after September 11th.

What do our young grandchildren know about the tragedy? What do we say to them? We don’t say more. We don’t know what to say. We wait for them to ask more.They dont for a while.

Then, later, driving back to Long Island across the 59th St. Bridge, MacKenzie says she can see the Empire State and the Chrysler Buildings.

“I wish the Twin Towers didn’t fall down. Why did they fly the airplane into the building anyway?” she asks. Before we can respond, Ryan says it was because they were blind.

She didn’t think so, MacKenzie says. She has a different view.

“They did it on purpose,” she says. “They were the biggest buildings in the world.”

Silence. Ryan is puzzled.

“Why would someone want to do that?”

“I bet they were so jealous that they wanted to knock them down so there wouldn’t be any at all,” MacKenzie says. “They don’t have big buildings. I don’t know, but that’s what I’m thinking.”

The rest of the ride home is silent.

What we are thinking is that they are both right.

The terrorists were blind, both morally and spiritually. And they were jealous.

The motives were more complex than that, of course, but they were at least that.

Even a 5 and 6 year old knew that.

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