Over A Decade Later; The Children of 9/11

by MSO

The estimated number of children who lost a parent in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in NYC is estimated to be 3,051.

Daddy,

If Daddy was still alive
How differently my life would be
We’d have lots of fun and family time
Lots of days we’d spend at the beach
Together we’d play lots of games
Life would really not be the same
I am always thinking of how much I love him
But I know he’s always with me
And I am always with him

Love, Ariella.

- Ariella Russin a twin born September 15, 2001.
Her father, Steve Russin was a bond trader at Cantor Fitzgerald located in the North Tower.

Of the nearly 3,000 casualties of September 11, 2001, these children became known as the youngest victims of unprecedented tragedy in recent history, as hijacked planes flew into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, millions watched the events unfold on their television; the grisly sight was a surreal nightmare that manifested into reality and left many in disbelief and stunned horror. But for them, the ones who were barely of age to understand the impact of the loss and the ones who had yet to be born, they would soon become known as the children of 9/11, that millennial generation of youth born between 1998 and 2004; generation Y; the Echo Boomers, colloquially known as generation 9/11.

During the onslaught, more than 100 women carrying the babies of husbands and boyfriends who worked as firefighters, police officers, office workers and civilians, lost their lives that day. These expectant women were forced into the realization that they weren’t just going to be raising children without their fathers, they were also going to be raising the youngest victims linked to the most atrocious disaster in recent history, who were the remaining living legacies of the fathers these children would never know.

Some of the children were born days after the devastation, others, months after to mothers who didn’t know at the time that they were expecting. The stress of post-9/11 saw some women endure miscarriages and even one mother go into labor during her husband’s memorial service.

For the children of 9/11, the grief, the loss and the emotional devastation was beyond their comprehension, and to guide these children forward a non-profit family organization known as Tuesday’s Children emerged. Through this organization, Tuesday’s Children has promoted healing and recovery since 2001, by providing individual coping and life management skills, and creating community programs.

“After 10 years, many parents want to move on with their lives, but the kids are often not at that stage,” Terry Sears, executive director of Tuesday’s Children said. “They are still learning and coming to terms with what happened and they have so many questions and doubts. It’s still not easy for them to speak about or understand what happened.”

Many of the 3000 fatherless children were on average age nine and ten, a formative time in their youth, they were not quite teenagers, but no longer little kids. While growing into independence, they still had sentimental attachments to their families. Aware of the world around them, but not fully capable of understanding how the world worked, these children, the millennial generation saw for the first time the emotional distress; the worry; and the uncontrolled disorder of the world brought to them at their very own doorsteps.

At the time of the attacks, these children were pulled into a collective sense of national dread, forced to witness the emotional heartache of fear, confusion and dread as the illusion of a peaceful world was shattered before their very eyes. Through this generation of children came a heightened awareness of global events; a shift in the paradigm of childhood youth and a crash course in world politics, terrorism and Islam. And for each of those 3000 fatherless children, the world was opened to interpretation differently.

Immediately after the attacks, a professor of social work at Columbia University, Grace Christ, studied families of firefighters who were killed. Among the families, she said that children between 8 and 11 had a difficult time navigating what had happened, and with the details of 9/11 being as grisly as they were, many children found the information frightening and difficult to comprehend.

Because children at that age required more detail and concrete information to gain a sense of understanding, Christ said, “They were overwhelmed by the suddenness and catastrophic nature, they had a lot of anxiety and a lot of feeling out of control.”

For the children of 9/11, their lives where impacted by a situation that no doubt played a pivotal role in their lives. Of the children who lost their fathers during 9/11, 17 children of firefighters who died on site joined the Fire Department and two children of police officers killed joined the Police Department.

Read more:

Tuesday’s Children

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