COMMENTARY | President George W. Bush was in Florida at an education event in 2001, reading a story to a second grade class, when he received the first word of 9/11. As the 10-year anniversary draws nigh, some of those kids, now in high school, speak out.
Some of the most virulent Bush haters have criticized him for not jumping up immediately upon hearing the news of the plane hitting the second tower and running out to do … God knows what. Knowing that he still did not know the full details of what was happening, there were people gathering that information, and an abrupt departure would unnecessarily frighten the children, Bush finished the story, attempting as much as possible to project calm.
Now adolescents, the members of that class, who were all of 7 years old at the time, are glad that the president exercised that forbearance. It is not that they didn’t know something was wrong. The look that passed over the president’s face was all that was necessary to convey that. But by maintaining calm, the president also projected reassurance, something kids need from adults when the world is falling apart.
Like many children who are close to graduating high school, the kids who were with Bush that awful morning have known very little but war. That fact seems to have made them stronger, though. Two who were interviewed for the Time Magazine article are attending a secondary school military academy in preparation for a career in the armed services. Another is in Junior ROTC at her school.
One thing that unites the children of 9/11 is a deep and abiding hatred of Osama bin Laden. After the president left their class, a teacher brought in a television and they saw for the first time the enormity of what happened as the twin towers of the World Trade Center burned in real time. They only had a dim understanding of why such a thing was happening. That understanding grew slowly as they grew older and became more aware of the world.
Will kids like the children of 9/11 ever know a time of peace? There are analysts who bet not. The war that began in earnest almost 10 years ago may well occupy this century and be fought for generations, with the course of civilization at hazard. Their children and their children’s children will be born and grow up knowing that there are people who breathe only to kill and enslave them. Mores the pity.
Source: The Interrupted Reading: The Kids with George W. Bush on 9/11, Tim Padgett, Time Magazine, May 3, 2011