One of the advantages of this website being around for a year is that now I can begin posting “annual” challenges! And today, I am so pleased that it’s time for this challenge again. It’s one of my favorites. It makes me smile every time I do it.

And it makes me cry every time, too.

September 11th challenge


A year ago, I shared this story with you.

“But Mom – why did they crash those planes if they knew they were going to die?” my six-year-old asked.

How could I possibly answer?

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum with my family. I tried to turn it into an interesting and educational experience for my young children by explaining exhibits and allowing them to interact wherever they could. As we neared a large September 11th exhibit, I stopped them, knelt down, and began to prepare them for what they were about to see. Every September 11th, I talk to them a bit about what the day means to me, but it had been 11 months since we’d had that conversation, and at ages 3 and 6, I knew they’d completely forgotten.

“A lot of years ago, when I was still in high school, there was a very sad day in our country. Some very bad men got onto airplanes and made them crash into tall buildings. There were a lot of workers there, and a lot of people died.” Already the tears were beginning to come, but I tried to explain as matter-of-factly as I could.

“But Mom – why did they crash those planes if they knew they were going to die?” my six-year-old asked.

How could I possibly answer?

“Well, sweetie,” I began slowly, “Do you know how in our family, we don’t use the word ‘hate’?”

Two little heads nodded.

“It’s because hate is such a sad, sad word. It’s the very opposite of love. When we love someone, we do everything we can to take care of them and to make their lives better and happier. When we hate someone, we do whatever they can do to hurt them and to make their lives worse and sadder. And these men had so much hate in their hearts, they chose to kill other people, even though it meant they would die.

“But guys, that’s not what I want you to remember about that day. I want you to remember that there were some very, very brave people that day. I want you to remember them.” I took a deep breath and began telling them stories.

For the rest of the story, and to read the details of our Thank a Fireman challenge, please click here.

Mere days later, I was in New York City. We arrived the evening of September 11th. We saw the roses left everywhere. We saw the heartbroken people. We wandered through the memorial museum. We talked to survivors. We listened to final phone calls.

We looked a woman in the eyes as we heard the heartbreaking words from her husband: “He was my wife’s brother.” I hugged her, this woman I had just met, and we cried.

We remembered.


We remembered people who we had never met. We remembered innocent victims. We remembered unthinkable bravery and courage and self-sacrifice. We learned their stories. And I wrote some of them down to share with you. Please, please, if you have a moment …

Remember with me.

So this week, we will visit our everyday heroes. We will bring treats and a card. We will smile, we will hug them, and we will thank them.

Because we know that these are the men and women who would rush UP a burning staircase to help me climb down.

Or even more importantly, to help my children climb down.

Saluting our flag

On September 11th, we remember the heroes.

And we remember our firemen.

Ladder 3


Will you remember with me?

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