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It is almost impossible to understand the stress suffered by the children of people who died in the World Trade Center attacks on September 11, 2001. This book allows readers to gain an understanding of what happened to the children (now grown) ten years after 9/11.
The book was edited and produced by Ron Miskoff, an instructor and principal investigator at Rutgers University, with the assistance of Prof. Elizabeth Fuerst. The two taught a course called “The 9/11 Project” which brought together some of the best students in the Rutgers Department of Journalism and Media Studies. The book was produced for the 10th anniversary of 9/11. But, following the 10-year anniversary, Miskoff and Fuerst developed this iBook as a way of reaching a much larger audience. It contains the original interviews and photos as well as edited versions of the video that the students shot on location.
“9/11 Stories: The Children” is a compendium of 20 stories; photos of the children today and a decade ago when they were seen with their parents; and video of interviews during which the college students encouraged the children to express themselves passionately. The “children”, about the same age as the students (early 20s), described the difficult times they experienced following the death of their parent. In written essays by the students, photos of the children prior to 9/11 and today, as well as intimate videos which allowed the children to tell their story at length, “9/11 Stories: The Children” gives readers a detailed look and understanding of what followed the tragedy of 9/11 in truly personal terms.
Up until now, most of the tales about 9/11 children were grab-and-run journalism stories by older reporters who were working on deadline. This book allowed the students to spend time with each child of 9/11, to gain a full understanding of the difficult time each child faced after 9/11, and to record the interviews, photos and videos that appear in this book.
There is no other place where readers can learn what had been confidential details about the lives of the children. Now that they are older, they can express themselves in ways that were impossible when they were pre-teens. There is the story of the young woman whose father loved to watch her dance. After his death, she decided to pursue a career in dance and laments that her father cannot watch her now. There is the young man whose father wanted his son to be an outstanding sportsman. But when the father died, the son decided to pursue a career in music, something closer to his heart. These are not cardboard tales dreamed up by a press agent to mollify readers’ morbid curiosity; they are real, breathing stories that allow readers to gain a full understand of the effects of 9/11 on the families that were most affected.
There is some commonality, of course. One subject after another describes the horror of coming home from school to find a house full of family and neighbors — along with strangers they never saw. Many of them shared the experience of spending time in a summer camp for children of 9/11 victims. In every case, the children did not hold back anything; they expressed their resentment of insensitive adults and classmates as well as their appreciation for uncles who stepped in to act as surrogate fathers or mothers who dealt with the horrors of the disaster but kept the family together. There are no punches pulled here. Readers will find some of the videos uplifting but others sad and difficult to watch without crying.
Historians as well as psychologists and sociologists will find this book helpful in expressing the effects of tragedy and how it affects the “real” people who suffer the most. This book was supported by a grant from the New Jersey Press Foundation and the foundation created by the North Jersey Media Group.