Tonight I told Andrew about 9-11-2001. High level, not focussed on the terror, but still giving him the facts. About hate so bad you want to kill and die for it. What suicide means. About the silence in the skies that began at noon that fated day.
We talked about buildings falling down, and his Uncle Jeff being safe here at home even though he often is right there in Manhattan. Watching United 93 tonight I realize there is an important part of the story I left out. A part of the story that hits very close to home.
In raising boys, I have found a quandary that comes up again and again. My boys wanted to fight. They wanted to quash the bad guys. They wanted to carry weapons and learn moves. I wanted them to be gentle, patient, to turn the other cheek. I wanted them to use reason.
And then September 11, 2001. I'm a fairly educated person, so it was not the first time I was aware that there were people in this world that hated so much that they would be willing to die causing harm to their enemies. But I think for all of us Americans the painful truth of that became real on a new level after that date.
I think of what it must have been like to have your child call you from United Flight 93 to tell you they were going to die. To tell you that the plane had been hijacked and that they weren't just going to sit by, they were going to act. Be gentle? Be patient? Hope for the best? Turn the other cheek? HELL NO! In the untenable situation where it was pretty clear that my son was going to die one way or another, I'd have been proud to hear that he was going to fight back. That he wasn't going to wait. That he was going to take a shot at stopping a wrong. Horrified and pleading for it not to be so, but proud nonetheless.
I think this is what my boys are feeling when they fight their imaginary battles. As mothers, we are thankful that real battles don't happen very often, maybe never. And yet...I can see that they are cut from a different cloth. They are designed to protect and defend. They want to see good triumph over evil and they don't want a bleacher seat.
So tomorrow we will go for a drive, and I'll tell Andrew the rest of the story. About this guy, who went to school down the block from us, who has a post office named in his honor. We'll walk past the field where he played ball and sit in the parking lot of his memorial, and talk about heroes. We will start the dialogue about when to turn the other cheek, when to employ reason, and when to fight the fight of a hero.
Thank you Tom Burnett and the other passengers of Flight 93 for your courage and the lessons you ever teach into the future.