An hour of Radio Rookies stories hosted by On The Media's Brooke Gladstone. To mark the 10th anniversary of September 11th, Radio Rookies partnered with the 9/11 Memorial and Museum to share the stories of six young people from New York City, New Jersey and Long Island who are part of the last generation of young people who remember 9/11 as a lived experience, rather than a historic event.
Eric Leinung was 12-years-old when his big brother, Paul, went into work on the 100th floor of the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001. Paul didn't make it out. When adolescents are faced with a traumatic event research shows that they often vent their feelings through aggression and rage. Eric spent his teen years fighting, sometimes physically, with his mom. Now, ten years after the Twin Towers collapsed, Eric reports on how he found his way through his family's loss.
Norhan Basuni divides her life into the time before September 11th, and the time after. For her, it is the day that she, an ordinary 7th grader, became a symbol of Islam, of "them", and to some, of terrorism. In the wake of the attacks, she remembers her father telling her she could no longer wear hijab because he feared for her safety after family friends were attacked in the street. She was taunted by classmates in school. Now an accomplished 22-year-old college graduate, Norhan reports on how she coped with these experiences as a pre-teen and teenager, and how she developed into an educator, a spoken word poet, and a defender of her faith.
Erin Reeg's parents were paramedics when they met and fell in love. They went on to become a firefighter and a nurse who, given their line of work, passed along to their two daughters the ability to react calmly in a crisis and to NOT respond to adversity with too much emotion. When the first tower fell on September 11th, Erin's father was hit by falling debris and all the coping strategies Erin learned from her parents kicked in.
After the death of Osama Bin Laden, young people took to the streets in droves to celebrate and a lot of discussion ensued in the media about a "9/11 Generation", the young people who came of age after the attacks. Brendan was a first-grader in suburban New Jersey on September 11th, 2001, and he has only vague memories of that day. Even so, he feels shaped by the events and their aftermath and hopes to join the military. His younger siblings, who don't remember 9/11, feel little connection to it. Brendan reports on whether or not his peers and younger siblings feel that 9/11 impacted their world view.
Joey Rizzolo was six years old when he watched the events of September 11th 2001 on the news, while folding laundry with his grandma in his living room. At the time, Joey didn't understand the larger meaning of what was happening, other than planes hitting buildings. Even though he had no personal connection to 9/11, at the age of 11 Joey decided to initiate a Freedom Walk to help residents of his town, Paramus, NJ, remember and honor the victims of 9/11. Joey organizes the event with a committee of teenagers, who carry out all the fundraising, organizing, and publicity. Last year's Freedom Walk drew almost 1,000 people.
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Today is the first of the Radio Rookies series Our 9/11: Growing Up In the Aftermath. Jillian Suarez’s story is one she says she doesn't want to tell with tears. Jillian’s father, a New York City police officer, didn't come home on September 11th and for three months her mother held out hope he would be found alive -- until she received a call that his remains had been found. Now 18 years old, Jillian rarely speaks about the loss she feels. For this piece, she decided to push through her silence to sit down with some of the closest people in her life, including her mom, to talk about her father’s death and what his absence has meant in her life.