September 11 is listed in the “Major Disasters” section, subheading “Aircraft Disasters,” of son’s new almanac. It is the only hijacking in the list–the rest are accidents–and the phrasing is poor: “Two hijacked planes crashed into the World Trade Center, one into the Pentagon, one went down in a PA field.” No, Almanac editors, the planes didn’t crash; they were deliberately flown into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The one in the PA field did crash, and it’s due only to the heroism of the doomed passengers who did not allow it deliberately to be flown into yet another important American building full of people. I do not understand people who still insist on avoiding calling 9/11 what it was: an atrocity. It was not a tragedy, as many news outlets and politicians have called it. It was a disaster, as the Almanac calls it, but that does not give its true character: It was a cold-bloodedly planned, determinedly executed mass murder-suicide.
I hadn’t before said anything to my son about 9/11. He’s only seven and it happened before he was born. But he likes to read to us the lists of events and cool facts in his almanac. It really gave me a jar to hear it in a list of accidents consigned to history. Unprepared, I ended up giving him the nutshell on what happened, including the heroism of the Flight 93 passengers, but I couldn’t do it without tearing up. He listened intently, but next time he wanted to read the list to us, he sternly warned me not to repeat the story of 9/11 and not to cry. He then omitted it from the list, because the fun, for him, was quizzing us on “What happened?” in each particular disaster, and he didn’t want to hear the painful story of 9/11 again. At least he grasped that there was something different about that one.