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‘The children of September 11 are the next great generation’

It is a crisp, cool day here in Vermont as I write this on September 11, 2011, not unlike that terrible day itself. We have just suffered our floods here, floods that have brought out the best of humanity and the worst of nature (in the case of September 11, human nature) – to me, a similar pattern of September 11, 2001.

 

When extreme events happen, our logic kicks in, trying to make sense of it. How did this happen? Could it have been prevented? What were the steps that led from A to B? While our floods are not comparable to September 11 in many ways, the feelings our floods produced were: helplessness, fear, shock, sadness, grief, loss, anger. The list is long. What has struck me most in both this 10th anniversary of September 11 and the events of our past two weeks here are the children.

Since September 11, I have always followed the stories of the children who lost a parent or parents that terrible day, particularly the babies who were born afterward to widowed single parents. These children are at least 9 years old now, very close to the age of my daughter, who is 8 and a half. I seriously questioned having a child at all after September 11; what kind of world was I bringing him or her into? I forgot that children are the most resilient people around. I forgot that they bring hope, fresh ideas and are non-judgmental. I forgot that children – taught to be fair-minded and to think for themselves – offer this country renewed abundance with every generation. Then I forgot my fear and was blessed with an amazing person, a girl who is learning that when bad things happen to good people, we can survive and live.

The children of September 11 were burdened with responsibility and loss not intended for young children or, for that matter, any children. They have learned lessons that many adults do not ever grasp. But this was the same with my grandparents: burdened first with the Great Depression, then World War II. I truly believe these children are the next Great Generation. I wait with positive anticipation to see what the children of September 11 will bring to this nation as they age and mature.

On the way home from school earlier this week, as we passed some of the flood devastation, my daughter told me she was happy she had gotten a chance to volunteer. She explained that the person she and her friend were helping had looked so sad when they arrived it made her sad. But by the end of their clean-up time, this same person looked happy. “She looked like she knew it wasn't that bad anymore.”

 

Jodi Lawaich lives in Waitsfield.

 

 

 

 

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