Today is the sixth anniversary of the day two planes crashed into the World Trade Center, one into the Pentagon, and one more into fields in Pennsylvania.

The young people who were teenagers in 2001 were, as a group, dramatically affected by the attacks. Adolescence is a time when there is a deeper opening of the soul, so the tragic and the painful and the beautiful and the gentle tend to enter and pierce more deeply than they do for the younger child or for the adult. These young people were marked more deeply by the tragedy than most others.

Because adolescence covers such a short time span, most of the those who were teenagers in 2001 are now young adults. 9/11 to the current cohort of teenagers is something from their childhood. It is probably remembered starkly, but more because of the reactions of the adults around them than because of the act itself.

I had a newborn baby on 9/11. She slept and nursed and gurgled the morning through attached to me in our sling. Without a TV, we spent most of the morning listening to NPR, leaning against the open front door, watching the cars and people go by. Eventually I walked across the street to a neighbor’s house, to be with someone. I saw the image of the burning towers for the first time there.

Where were you six years ago? Where was your teenager or child? Take some time today to ask for their memories of the day – don’t assume that just because you were together that you have the same memories. And don’t feel compelled to use the time as a teaching moment – just listen and learn about how your teenager or young adult internalized such an incredibly painful moment in our shared history.

About Karen Rayne

Dr. Karen Rayne has been supporting parents and families since 2007 when she received her PhD in Educational Psychology. A specialist in child wellbeing, Dr. Rayne has spent much of her career supporting parents, teachers, and other adults who care for children and teenagers.


  1. I’m feeling affected by this anniversary simply because it was a Tuesday, as it was then.

    I didn’t have a TV either, nor a baby. I was surfing the ‘net when it happened, but I didn’t click on any news sites, and video streaming was less common then.

    So I walked to school, and on the way there a truck driver yelled at me that the university was closed. I didn’t hear why, and there happened to be a newspaper stand next to me, so I bent down and looked. I will never forget the headline of the Dallas Morning News that day: BLOCKBUSTER MOVES VHS TAPES TO MAKE ROOM FOR DVDs.

    I finally found out what had happened when I called my father and he told me. I was a young adult, not an adolescent, but I needed to talk to my parents that day. I can only imagine how the younger folks felt.

  2. I was work, it was weird. At first everybody just kind of kept working but clearly distracted, then everyone was just pretending to work but actually watching CNN via the internet. The city network froze up – it couldn’t handle that much video streaming. So we all just gathered in the break room watched TV and wondered what to do. Folks trickled out to go home, or spent the rest of the day on the phone.

    It was surreal.

    My daughter, new-born, was blissfully unaware of it all. I would like to hope she still is, but as perceptive as she is, that may be wishful thinking.

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