Tuesday, September 10, 2002

Children's views have changed

        The world can't stop thinking about tomorrow. Wednesday is the first anniversary of 9-11.

        One year since terrorists attacked America. One year since thousands of innocent lives were lost. One year since life changed for everyone, everywhere.

        The aftereffects of 9-11 can be seen in the way schoolchildren view the world.

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        They have experienced a certain loss of innocence. That goes with being exposed to the handiwork of evil. But all is not lost. They still believe there's hope for tomorrow.

        These impressions came my way after learning what's on the minds of children a world apart, seventh- and ninth-graders in a suburban school outside London, England and a kindergartner from Sunman, Ind.

        The English teenagers are students of Lindsay Beineke. The Fort Thomas native recently started teaching at Devanant Foundation School, located in Loughton, Essex, a northeastern suburb of Greater London.

        Lindsay asked her year 7 and year 9 students, British equivalents of our seventh- and ninth-graders, to write down how 9-11 changed their lives.

        Their telling replies displayed wisdom beyond the writers' years.

        “Sept. 11 has changed how I think about everything,” wrote Joana Hart, a year 7 student from London.

        Her classmate and fellow Londoner, Daniel Bennet, noted that Sept. 11 “showed how ruthless men could be.”

        Even though she learned about the attacks from “my mum,” Rebecca Harvey, a year 9 student from London, “didn't believe anyone would want to do something so terrible and cause so much pain to so many people.

        “It made me feel sick that people could be so evil.”

        Christopher Arqyrakis, a year 9 student from Loughton, fears for future generations.

        “What sort of effect is this going to have on children?” he wondered. “I even saw my two-year-old cousin reenacting 9-11 with his toys.”

        Lindsay will be in class Wednesday morning. But she's taking the afternoon off.

        “I was torn,” she admitted via e-mail. “The teacher in me wanted to use it as a life lesson and as a teachable moment for my students here. But the American in me felt that I needed to go somewhere and do something to show my respect.”

        Wednesday afternoon, she plans to make her way to the American embassy in London. A flag pin attached to her lapel, she'll wear red, white and blue.

        Lindsay wants to be there at 1:46 p.m. London time. That's when Great Britain holds a national moment of silence to mark the time (London is five hours ahead of New York) the first plane struck the World Trade Center.

        Lindsay feels she must do this. It's her patriotic duty.

        She's representing “a country wounded.” So, she feels she must “show the world the strength and determination of the U.S. to remember and move on, to show that we were injured but not beaten.”

        The resolve Lindsay noted surfaced recently as a 5-year-old boy stood in a library's parking lot.

        Clay Becker was leaving the library in Harrison, Ohio with his grandparents, Robert and Joyce Steinfort.

        He had checked out some Where's Waldo? books. Like other kindergartners, Clay loves looking for Waldo, says his grandma Joyce.

        A sudden gust of wind grabbed the flag atop the library's pole.

        The Stars and Stripes flapped in the breeze.

        Clay stood still and looked up. He remembered what he learned at daycare last year just after 9-11.

        He put his hand over his heart and recited the Pledge of Allegiance.

        Columnist Cliff Radel can be reached at cradel@enquirer.com; 768-8379; fax 768-8340. Past columns at Enquirer.com/columns/radel


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