Remember the Children

The following is one of my postings on the NewMusicBox WTC posting page.

Patricia Smith, age 2
I wanted to add to Tod Machover's words about his children some sad reflections from nearer to Ground Zero. My 4-year-old, Max, has been seriously affected by the initial events and other circumstances that followed. His school is just around the corner from St Vincent's, with a clear view of the towers. When I pulled him from school on September 11 he saw the towers billowing smoke. When the whole family got home, we were concerned to be able to hear any emergency broadcasts, so he was unfortunately exposed to the media's constant repetition of the horrible images, which made him curl up into a fetal position before we realized what was going on and switched to radio. He is suddenly afraid of the dark, upset by things that didn't used to upset him, plays and makes drawings of the towers, and continues to speak about how sad he is that they are gone. At one time, he pointed uptown to some haze, believing it was the smoke that billowed for days from the wreckage.

He is constantly exposed to reminders of the tragedy. The students displaced from PS234 are in his school, with posters welcoming them everywhere. He cannot go to school without passing countless posters of the missing, including a large shrine on the corner of the block his school is on, Politicians like the Governor and the First Lady visit his school for their photo ops.

Max's trauma is nothing compared to the PS234 kids who, initially evacuated to the basement, were rushed screaming through the streets by firemen when the first collapse occurred. And then, of course, there are the thousands of children who have lost a parent. The massive ceremony of that company that lost over 700 employees is sad beyond comprehension.

I lost my mother to cancer when I was six, and it has always set me apart from the world. For example, throughout my childhood, Yizkor and Yom Kippur, not apples, honey and Rosh Hashanah, were what was important. Beyond the difficulties of an older person losing a child, and the immense burden of becoming a widow or widower, these thousands of children of various ages stripped of parents is an enormous tragedy that most people cannot begin to comprehend.

The most important thing that society can do for these children is to start collecting stories from their relatives, friends and colleagues about their missing parent. The traumatized widow or widower may have difficulty talking about their missing loved one, may remarry and get on with their lives. This must go beyond the short portraits I've seen in some newspapers. Let people write or record things as short or long as they want. These memories should be accessible from the Internet so that the children can access them whenever they want to, or are ready to.

Like the children of Holocaust survivors, these children of the WTC victims, including (and perhaps especially) those too young to speak up for themselves now, need this memorial started NOW, and need it to be permanent. If you attend a memorial for anyone lost in this tragedy, make sure a book of memories by attendees is created for these dear children, who may not be brought to the funeral if they are very young.

There is an excellent memoir, "Of Time and Memory," which is by an author whose mother died a few days after he was born. Decades later, he got up the strength to re-create his mother's life. Not everyone may have that author's skills and determination.

l am slowly recovering, but my first thoughts are with Max. Many AMC members may remember Max, the judge of "The Lullaby Project." At a recent WTC fundraiser, I sang "Sleep," my contribution. An a cappella lullaby would be a comforting musical contribution, rather than some banal war-like piece full of bombast and bravado. "The Lullaby Project" is now a call for scores, and Max would be thrilled to receive additional submissions, You can find details at and

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This page 2001-2007

Last Updated: September 12, 2007