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10-year-olds know nothing but post- 9/11

Thursday, September 08, 2011

George W. Bush is inaugurated as the nation's 43rd president; Destiny's Child tops the music charts with "Survivor" and "Shrek" hits the big screen for the first time. Those were the images of 2001 until Sept. 11.

Most of the children at the Hiawatha School in Berwyn are celebrating their 10th birthday this year. They are the first generation of children who know only life post-September 11, 2001. And some of them know quite a bit about that fatal day.

"My parents told me about it," said Naomi.

"What did they tell you about it?" her teacher Bismah Sabri asks.

"That there used to be two towers and they were destroyed by a group of terrorists," Naomi said. She said her parents first told her about 9/11 when she was 5- or 6-years old.

Some of the students have seen the videos and pictures.

"I was sad," Eric said. "Because I saw like people jumping out the windows."

Others heard about it for the first time.

"I learned it here in school," Kim said. "The day when we were learning about it," she said, referring to last Friday when the 10 year anniversary was first mentioned in class.

For all of the students, it's making an impression. These are children who know about war and have questions many adults struggle to answer.

"Who won?" asks Victor.

"Who won? Actually, Victor, the war in Afghanistan is still going on so we don't know who won. And Zion do you know who won the war in Iraq?" Sabri asks.

"United States," Zion said.

"United States, you are correct," she replied.

The children have developed their own theories about terrorists.

"Somebody is probably taking over from Osama Bin Laden's place and probably planning to hit again," Enrico said.

And Homeland Security is a familiar concept.

"The president is more aware of his surroundings and putting more security and stuff around," Lucas said.

But even that doesn't put them completely at ease.

"I do not feel safe because now it's getting closer to destroy this place and they're planning to destroy the Freedom Tower in New York," Anahi Toolabian, 10, said.

"I hope that we win the wars so it will stop terrorism and nothing bad will happen to this country again," Enrico Terrazas, 10, said.

If there is a bright spot, their teacher, Bismah Sabri believes she has found it. Sabri is an American-born Muslim with Pakistani roots. She says she was pleasantly surprised that her students didn't seem to harbor the prejudices she has seen from many adults.

"None of them said anything about Osama Bin Laden being Muslim. None of them said anything about Islam being the bad religion and I was like that's pretty awesome. So they're very tolerant and open-minded and that was very exciting," Sabri said.

To find age-appropriate education materials on 9/11, visit 911memorial.org

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