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What do you say to a child whose father has been killed?

I was moved by this quote in the Guardian newspaper (6th September 2011) from a young man whose father died in the 9/11 tragedy.

(On the day) “… a friend came in and asked me what I’d like to do more than anything. I said I wanted to play soccer, so that’s what we did, we went to play in the park. That’s all I remember of that day.”

After a few weeks Eamon returned to school and discovered that membership of the 9/11 kids club carried with it burdens on top of the bereavement that any child who has lost a parent must endure.

There was also the hugely public nature of his father’s death to deal with.

He recalled: “Honestly, I don’t know what was worse – the weird or silent looks people gave me, or when people would say, ‘I’m sorry about your dad’, because both of them, even people offering me kind words, they singled me out.

“The thing I wanted more than anything else was to be treated like anybody else and to have some normalcy return to my life. It’s hard for a bunch of 11-year-old kids to wrap their heads around the fact. So that was a hard thing – being not intentionally ostracised, but feeling like that anyway.”  He and his brother became known as the “9/11 kids” in their area of New Jersey, and that labelling both pushed them away from friends around them and drove the two of them closer together. Through counselling groups he also got to know other 9/11 children, many of whom remain good friends 10 years on.