Children's Reactions to the World Trade Center Disaster
September 11, 2001

In the days following the tragedy at New York's World Trade Center, parents, teachers, mental health professionals, and children rallied to support each other in the midst of widespread trauma. Two words were most spoken by adults: OVERWHELMING and HOPE. Children expressed sadness while teens voiced determination and yearnings for PEACE and for LOVE.

From within the midst of overwhelming horror and despair arose a tremendous sense of hope and an urgent desire to reach out and help others in need -- the many victims and survivors, along with the heroic rescue workers risking their lives at Ground Zero. In the first hours and days, New York, Washington, and America went into shock. Children lost parents, and even the lucky ones became upset, simply observing the emotional responses of adults, hearing sirens and helicopters, and witnessing a surreal horror movie over and over and over-- on television, radio, and the Internet.

Many children welcomed an opportunity to express their own feelings of love, fear, anger, hope, and determination-- through drawings and written reflections on table cloths and posters, or by creating a box of hope, a paper sculpture, or a message on a leaf, placed on a "Tree of Hope".

[Twin Angels]
Twin Angels, Twin Towers....

An image forever etched in memory

Quotes from Children and Teens

-- I like that NY can keep its cool. No one is panicking, just praying and mourning.

-- It's strange to see people on the streets of New York and know that somewhere inside their heads they are thinking about the same thing as every other American.

--Remember the Towers! The sky-line will never be the same. We will never be the same. Rebuild in Peace.

[It's not OK... but we'll try...]
A teen's (very typical) struggle with strong emotions

-- Our nation will become a stronger nation and we will overcome this tragic disaster.

-- We will make it through this crisis. New York is strong. Nothing can stop us. Thank you to everyone who is helping in the rescue effort. God Bless everyone.

-- Whoever lost a family member-- I give my heart out. I'm sorry.

-- Now beneath the hole in the sky, like all, the souls shall lie. We are shattered like the glass itself. Tonight the moon shall not rise, and wind shall carry the souls away.

[Blue thanks]
Many tributes poured out to the rescue workers, who lost so many of their own.
[More Thank You's]

-- Anthony, I miss you and love you. They took your life away at such a young age but you are still in our hearts. I love you always.

-- They might throw down our building but not our spirit.

[Tree of Hope]
A "Tree of Hope"

-- War will not mend the lives that were lost. It will simply bring more innocent people to [their] deaths.

[For everyone who cares...]
Wise words from the young... Listen to our children!

--Life is a word, known by many, spoken by few, understood by no one. A person breathing is as if a light has opened into a place in which one can laugh and no one minds. A day when life is gone is a day when no one should listen to the screaming souls of the people in their hearts.

-- All I want is to wake up from this horrible nightmare. No one deserves this. I just want to wake up!

And so what does one say, what does one do in the face of helplessness, worry, and horror? Well, one very positive thing to do is to find a way to help those even more needy than ourselves, donating blood and clothing and food, or volunteering time and support... Another very important thing is to care for each other right where we are. Be kind. Respect each other's feelings. We all hurt. In response to the very worst that people can offer, it is truly inspiring to see how many beautiful people have pulled together to demonstrate the very best qualities of which people are capable.

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Last Updated: Thursday, 28-Nov-2002 16:06:32 EST

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