My children don't remember what it was like before 9/11/01. They don't remember when being Muslim or Middle-Eastern wasn't synonymous with terrorism or when going through security at an airport meant someone glancing at you to make sure you didn't have an AK-47 strapped to your back, not taking off your shoes to check for explosives. It breaks my heart to compare their knowledge of the horrors that people are capable with to my own innocence at the same age. They have been teased at school because their father, the love of my life and one of the most kind and generous men I've ever known, is Iranian. Daughter and her friends joke about her terrorist family background and the Things - taking everything literally and personally - come home two or three times every school year filled with indignant rage because someone called them 'terrorist' at school.
Joking or serious it all cuts me to the quick. They know about things that no child should know about - as do all of their peers. Childhood has changed forever and always in this new world that we live in.
When it became known that the monsters behind the attacks on the WTC and the Pentagon were evil, crazed maniacs who called themselves Muslim, our next door neighbor called us just to let us know that she knew we were good people, good neighbors and she "prayed we were not victimized" because of husband's background.
The kids teachers invited husband to speak to their classrooms and put a face to the nameless label "middle-eastern" for their classmates.
We received phone calls from parents of our children's friends letting us know they were talking to their children about the danger and wrongness of blanketing every foreigner with the label of terrorist.
Firefighters, police officers and other first-responders after the attack are heroes I hold up to my children to show them that despite all the horror and evil people are capable of, they are also capable of unbelievable courage, bravery and selflessness.
My children know about evil, but they also know about good. My job is to make sure they see and recognize it.
This is the day that I remind myself not of the bad that is in the world, but all that is right and kind and good in the world.
And I cry for us all.