Like flickering candles, the 9/11 babies symbolise hope
The lack of comprehension for the atrocity committed on September 11 is such that it has taken 10 full years for it even to begin to sink in. In many ways, this is the first anniversary of September 11.
One woman from the Red Cross, handing out water and tissues down at the Ground Zero memorial, was asked what was different about this anniversary to the others.
She said on the first anniversary, she saw so many women wheeling in babies. On this day, a decade on, as the families gathered at the memorial in lower Manhattan, there were no prams or strollers.
It seems there were an incredible number of young children just born or about to be born at that time, which perhaps should not be surprising because the average age of those killed on 9/11 was about 35.
Those children are all now aged about 10, 11 and 12. They do not remember the parent who was taken from their lives. But they are reaching the age where they understand what their mothers, fathers, aunts and uncles have lost.
One young girl, aged 11, told me she didn’t miss her father because she didn’t know him. Sometimes, when other kids talked about their dads, she didn’t join in. She kind of pretended to herself that her dad was away on a long business trip.
These children are such powerful lights in the eyes of their surviving parents. They carry little ways or mannerisms about them, which they have somehow inherited from their dead parent.
They are constant reminders. And they also seem to understand they need to be brave for their mums or dads, and were especially so on this day of sadness in America.
At the Reading of the Names at the Ground Zero memorial, many young children spoke of their love for people they never knew.
It wasn’t the children who cried; it was their mums or dads.
For the kids, the pain of what was taken from them in the most significant act of terrorism the world has ever known will only begin to visit them in years to come.
It will unsettle them as they reach an age where they, too, begin to start families, because then they will truly understand the loss.
And so this deed, which ignored any known rules of war and became an unprecedented mass murder of civilians, will never be resolved.
For the 403 or so firefighters and police who died, their families and friends at least know they died trying to help others, in acts of bravery.
For most of the 3000 who perished, their families don’t even have that small satisfaction.
The families say they are proud, and they are. But they are really hurt and lost.
Next year, the events of 9/11 will make its terrible link to our own 10th anniversary of national suffering: the October 12, 2002, Bali bombings.
This event will be just as significant, and devastating, for Australian families. Almost all of the 88 Australians – and the 114 from other countries - who died on that day were young adults who had not started families.
Parents were left to grieve children they had already succeeded in raising to adulthood.
The group that died in Bali left few children, few babies to bring at least some hope and happiness to those left to carry on. Instead, there was just a terrible full stop.
Terrorists like to think they know what they are doing. But they have no idea.
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