I teach 5- and 6-year olds in a beach-community school in San Diego, Calif. Most of them are just learning how to speak English as their second language.
The morning after the attacks, I put my plans on hold to talk frankly about the horrible pictures the children had seen on television. For them, the tragedy could have been just outside our own school, since time and space have little meaning. On several occasions after we resumed our activities, a girl stopped her work to ask, "Teacher, we gonna die?"
That Friday, we held a patriotic assembly and encouraged the children to bring American flags and wear red, white, and blue. It was heart-warming to see a Vietnamese-American boy wearing a hand-cut American flag taped to his shirt. As my fellow teachers and I stood up front and sang "God Bless America," I couldn't help but tear up looking at all that innocence looking back at us. You might think small children wouldn't notice such a slight emotional response, but when I rejoined them, one child said, "You crying, teacher?" All I could say was that I was proud to be an American.