At the beginning of last week a couple of cancellation notices for Tribute Center tours appeared in my inbox. I decided to take those two tours as I wasn’t scheduled to give any walking tours this week or next. But let me give you a little back story that plays into this story. A friend who is now a Pastor in Irwin had invited me to speak to his congregation. So on September 12 I drove from my daughter’s home to the Irwin, PA which is just outside of Pittsburgh. My friend had mentioned that maybe on Saturday afternoon, we along with his wife and three young children could drive to Shanksville, PA to the United 93 Memorial. I agreed that I would like to visit the Memorial again as I had been there in August of 2011. I had seen the Memorial Plaza but the rest of the Memorial and the visitor center were not completed until this September.

I arrived in Irwin a little later than originally expected but after a lovely late lunch we drove the hour to Shanksville. My friend and his wife asked if I could explain a little bit about United 93 so their children would understand where we were going. Their adorable children are very young – 2 1/2, 6 and 7 years-old. In the simplest of terms I spoke of bad men taking over a plane and how the people on the plane knew the bad men were going to do something really bad and hurt many people so they tried to stop them. I said the plane crashed and that was very sad. We talked about what a Memorial is.  I mentioned also that it is safe and fun to go on airplanes.

When we arrived we walked through the new area. A National Park Ranger informed us we had arrived too late to go in the visitor center. Since I am not one to “play the 9/11 card” it was sometime later when I realized this may have been the occasion to say “I am a 9/11 family member.”  The weather was not the best and we were getting cold. Anyway we drove down to the Memorial Plaza area. My friend again asked if I could explain so his children understood. In the Memorial Plaza area there are posters that show photos of the 40 people killed on United 93 as well as other information. I called the children over to show them the photos of the passengers. I pointed to Todd Beamer and Jeremy Glick and commented that these were two of the men that helped to take the plane back. I comment that all the people were brave. I mentioned that these two people went to my cousin’s church (actually my husband’s cousin’s church).Look! All the people in the photos are smiling that is how their families want to remember them. My friend’s 7-year-old  daughter, Sarah * said “this lady is wearing flowers.” I looked and realized the woman was from Hawaii. And upon further investigation we realized there were two ladies wearing flowers, two ladies from Hawaii. I talked about leis and how beautiful the ladies looked. How far away Hawaii is. I mentioned let’s look for this lady’s name when we go up to the wall. Sarah read the name “Christine”. As we walked towards the wall we stopped and looked on the shelves where people left remembrances. “How many flags?” “How many bracelets?” At one point the children were running ahead. My friend was concerned that they weren’t showing respect or were disturbing other people. I said “They are being children. Children are our hope. As a 9/11 family member I am fine with the way they are acting. Now if they were 10 or 12 years old that would be a different story.” When we arrived at the wall we found Christine’s name there were flowers in front of her name.

Fast forward to Thursday as I finish my tour a woman comes up to thank me. She is obviously upset and I ask if she is okay and she mentions she lost a good friend on flight 93. In conversation I realize her friend is Christine. I tell her of a little girl named Sarah who paid respect to her friend Christine. We hugged. And not for the first time and I pray not for the last time I was blessed by the amazing “coincidences” God allows me to experience.

*Sarah is not her real name. FYI: I was able to share this story with my friend and we are all amazed and will never forget Christine.


teaching children about September 11, 2001

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Through my volunteer work with the 9/11 Tribute Center I have had the amazing opportunity to share my story and story of September 11, 2001 with the next generation. I have spoken to school groups while sitting on the floor in gallery 5 of the Tribute Center or via the internet to classrooms in  another state or standing in a classroom in New York or New Jersey. Each time I am struck with what an awesome responsibility it is  to tell the facts and person to person history of the day that changed the world. As the 14th anniversary approaches I have included a list of resources that you may find helpful in teaching the children in your life about that tragic day.

9/11 Tribute Center has resources for parents and teachers –

National September 11th Museum also has resources –

Below are some books that appropriate for children. Please read the suggested ages in the book reviews on Amazon before reading a particular book to a child. The first six listed here are appropriate for elementary aged children. The other books are appropriate for older children. Please monitor what information your teens are finding online and don’t forgot to engage in real conversation with your teens about the events of that day. 


Related posts –


Star Trek and my childhood

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Reading about Leonard Nimoy’s death today brought back childhood memories of watching Star Trek with my parents and siblings. There weren’t many shows that we watched as a family but Star Trek was definitely one of them. Growing up we didn’t have a television in our living room so we would all pile into my parents’  bedroom to watch Star Trek.  I remember my Dad telling us my mother included to watch the show or leave but don’t talk expect during the commercials. As I remember my brother, James, was really into Star Trek. James was always challenging me to do that tricky finger thing (which for the record I still can’t do it) and he loved to say “that isn’t logical”.

James was Mr. Spock for Halloween one year. His costume had been designed by my Dad complete with “pointy ears” and a Starship Enterprise insignia. I don’t remember if James had any kind of phaser or “beam me up Scotty device” but I am thinking he did. Due to the fact that the  Halloween costumes my Dad designed were always amazing and “state of the art”.  Of course “state of the art” in the 1960’s meant  boxes, paint, big batteries, wiring and flashing lights. One year my brother’s robot costume made from boxes, a bucket and blinking lights won my brother a bicycle and his photo in the newspaper. Another year my traffic light costume had lights that flashed green, yellow and red. That same year my sister’s pumpkin costume wasn’t just a pumpkin it was a jack o lantern that lit up. A side story: my sister’s pumpkin costume was perfectly round and looked great. The problem was she was a little girl in this big orange pumpkin costume and at one point she slipped on the walkway and rolled all the way down neighbor’s driveway. She was okay but I can still remember worrying she was going to roll into our “busy” street as we called it. But my Dad’s piece de resistant was the Starship Enterprise he built in our attached one car garage.  Oh, it wasn’t a boxed model or a jigsaw puzzle it was the bridge of the Enterprise. I think my sister and I were allowed to use it but mostly it was for my brother. There was silver painted plywood, blinking lights, computer screens, all kinds of buttons and switches and charts. It was the stuff of childhood dreams and adventures. To be honest I don’t know what happened to it. Eventually the attached garage would be renovated into a family room and then my Dad’s library.

I don’t remember many of the story lines of Star Trek as they “boldly went where no man had gone before”. The one episode where some tiny creature crawled into people’s ear is still disturbing. Whenever I see a gerbil, the furry tribble  episode comes to mind. I was never a Trekkie but I saw a couple of the Star Trek movies and was delighted when the original Mr. Spock had a cameo. Oddly enough when the signs for the Renaissance Festival are displayed I always think of Star Trek. Some years ago my brother and his family lived in California and he had mentioned that advertisements for the Renaissance Festival in CA stated “no Trekkie time travelers.” 😉

Rest in Peace! Mr. Nimoy.  Your role as Mr. Spock brought many happy memories to my mind today. Praying that your family and friends may find peace and comfort in the roles you played as friend, father, husband and grandfather. Safe journey.



a birth story – child # 2

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My first child was born three weeks after her due date and then only by force. My second child would arrive 5 days early. I would actually have labor with my second but she would also be born by C-section. My hubby would be seated next to me and I would watch in the mirror my doctors had set up. She would be totally wrapped in the cord just like baby #1 and the nurse would lay the baby’s cheek on mine and I would be in love. Wristbands would be placed on the baby and me and my hubby would leave the delivery room with the baby to head for the nursery. Within a matter of moments, Bruce, the baby and the nurse would be back. “What’s wrong?” The wrong date had been written on the wristbands it said June 2 but it was after midnight so it was June 3. So my wristband and baby’s wristband had to be changed and they had to be changed in my presence.

My daughters are 3 years and 3 days apart. There was no planning in that. It just worked out that way. It made it easy for family birthday parties which were always combined. Even though my children are born the same time of year and are both girls, they are very different. When they were little I would say they were night and day. I think God did that intentionally so I won’t think I had parenthood figured out. My first was a little timid about trying new things. She had to “check things out” before taking part in activities. My second would “jump right in” and then have a look of oops! For example, when my girls were little we belonged to the Sterling Forest Beach Club. It was a lovely beach on Greenwood Lake probably less than two miles from my house. There was a sandy beach area that gently sloped down to the water. The area was surrounded by beautiful trees as it was part of Sterling Forest. There was a playground and free swim lessons for the kiddos. I would sit on the beach in my sand chair and Emily, child #1, would play at the water’s edge with her sand toys. Meghan, child #2, was more adventurous. I remember one day in particular when Meghan at age 2 walked into the lake. I was watching her and so was the lifeguard. The lifeguard commented “how far do you think she will go?”. I said “let’s see.” Emily was concerned that the lifeguard and I were allowing Meghan to walk in. We were both standing close enough to grab her but that little stinker walked in up to her chin. Unbelievable!! That little stinker turns 27 today. Where do the years go!

Happy Birthday, Meghan! I am blessed to be your mom and so very proud of you.


but why ???


Last week I had the opportunity to speak with a group of fifth graders at the Tribute Center. It was one of those very cold days so the children arrived all bundled up in their coats, mittens, scarves and hats. We encouraged them to unfasten their coats, take off their hats and mittens. As with any group of children, you had those who were attentive and those who weren’t. They were led through the galleries by a staff member and I had the privilege of “tagging along”. One of the first comments the curator made was “are the attacks of September 11, 2001 current events or history?” It seemed strange to me that I hadn’t thought about that before. I pondered that question. I realized for fifth graders it is history they weren’t even born on September 11, 2001 but to their teachers, parents and older siblings it is current events.

At one point I overheard a student say to his fellow student “but why did they do it?”. They shrugged their shoulders and shook their heads and looked puzzled. I asked the two young men if they would like me to try to answer that question. “sure!” I choose my words very carefully. How do you explain terrorism to children. I have been trained in the proper things to say but it is always tricky. A simple answer is usually the best answer so I said “the terrorists were taught to hate. They were taught to hate America.” “oh!!” was their response.

Later when the fifth graders, their teachers and chaperones had finished viewing the galleries, they joined me downstairs for a my part of their visit – my September 11 story, timeline review and Q & A time. During the Q & A the same question was asked again “but why did they do it?” I gave the group the same basic answer I had given the two students. I stated “the terrorist were taught to hate. There is a whole bunch of history behind it but bottom line is they were taught to hate and then they made a bad choice to act on that hatred. Unfortunately, all through history people have been taught to hate but it is a choice to act or not act on hatred.” Little arms shoot up with more questions – “but why the Twin Towers?”. We discuss what an iconic is and what the Twin Towers stood for. We discuss what the Pentagon stood for.

And then a statement that was part fact, part misunderstanding and part question. “So after the plane hit the buildings, the police arrested the terrorists and they are in jail, right?” stated a wide-eyed 10-year-old boy. Pause. Glance at teacher. Breath. Think. I started formulating my words even more carefully. For a moment I thought how did he miss that a plane hitting a building would kill everyone? Was he not paying attention? How do I explain the unimaginable to this child? “No, the terrorist died, too! It was a suicide mission ” A look of shock on more than one face. Okay, they really don’t get this. Another pause. “You know if something bad happened while we were here together I would do whatever it took to keep you safe. Your teachers, all the grown ups here would be willing to protect you. Just like police officers, firefighters, and our military do all the time. But nothing in me can understand hating someone so much that I would kill myself so that they would die, too. That is what the terrorist did. They hated so much that they were willing to die so that someone else would die. And you know I am really glad you can’t comprehend that because you don’t want to be able to comprehend that.” 😦

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

― Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom

Travel Tuesdays – S1 E23 autumn foliage

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I love living in the northeast. The northeast enjoys four distinct seasons. Even though lately one season seems to leap-frog over another and then we go back to the “correct” season. Warm weather in April then back to rain in May and then back to whatever in June. The last few days I have been noticing that the leaves are starting to change color. When my daughters were growing up, they commuted with me to my work, their childcare then their elementary school and eventually high school. This time of year I would ask “which coloring is winning?”. Basically to keep them entertained and on occasion as a teachable moment about seasons or colors or creation. As the year’s past and my daughter’s grew too old for the color game, but every now and then one of them would randomly say “I think orange is winning”. 🙂 Today as I drove that same route I smiled and thought I think green is still winning but soon it will orange or yellow or red. From the looks of the fall foliage map, you have time to plan a drive to check out “what color is winning?” Don’t forget your camera. And why not stop for some cider and donuts.

Autumn Leaves
The autumn leaves swirl to the ground in their millions.
Gold, russet, ochre, burnt umber, and deep vermillion.
Down to the ground, the dying leaves flit and flutter;
On to the grassy bank, the pathway, and into the gutter.

Some of the colours of the leaves are deep and so very rich.
Whirling along the ground, some leaves tumble into the ditch.
A thick layer of multicoloured leaves now carpets the earth,
Leaving the trees bare, in readiness, for next spring’s rebirth.

With changing leaf colours, many people love this time of year,
But, that summer is well and truly over, it is now perfectly clear.
The many colours mixed together are a magical sight to behold;
I love the shades of yellow, crimson, sienna, and ruby red, so bold.

Some leaves are mottled, with two glorious colours or more;
Adding to the fabulous display, which now lies upon the floor.
Children love nothing better, than to frolic through the fallen leaves;
When workmen collect them up, they’re left feeling very aggrieved.

Even though the weather is getting cold, the colours look so warm.
Fiery reds and oranges, and golden hues, like those of ripened corn.
Photographers find this time of year, so very evocative and inspiring;
The spectacular displays before them, they spend much time admiring.

As the season draws on, the once vibrant colours begin to dull and fade.
Soon, all that is left are brown leaves, which once boasted brilliant shades.
When leaves first change their colour, they create much admired foliage,
But with age and weather, over the coming weeks, there is much spoilage.

I love the dark green leaves, with their edges tinged with a brilliant red.
But, alas, those colours will fade, now that the leaf is no longer being fed.
The crisp, bright colours can offer cheer on even the very dullest of days,
But in our minds, we know it won’t be long before winter comes our way.

Angela Wybrow


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This morning as I was standing outside of the Tribute Center waiting for the 11:00 am walking tour to begin there were many people walking down the street. Which that in itself isn’t unusually. Walking by were your basic slightly confused visitors who aren’t sure where the entrance to the National September 11 Memorial is. There were your average New Yorkers weaving in and out of the slower walking visitors and then there was a group of Naval officers in their dress whites. And mixed in with the officers were a group of kids and adults in bright blue t-shirts. At first glance we thought they were together which made no sense but who knows. This is New York. As more and more Naval Officers kept coming down the street, we realized they were from all different countries. But every now and then there was a kid, two or three in a bright blue t-shirt. Finally one of the Tribute staff asked one of the passing Naval Officers who they were? Obviously we knew where they were going but who were they? The gentleman stated “they were Naval Officers from the War College in Norfolk, VA.” My curiosity was getting the better of me so I asked one of the passing children who they were? A delightful ten-year old said “Kids for Peace” and handed me a construction paper heart with a lovely message on it about hope, love and peace being in your soul and bubbling out into the world. Then I asked one of the blue t-shirted adults “are you with the Naval officers?” She gave me a strange look. “No!” They were just walking down the street at the same time, heading to the same Memorial. And there was just something amazing about that.

As we started our tour and came around the corner, the “Kids for Peace” were standing in front of FDNY 9/11 Memorial singing to the “War College” Naval Officers. And I thought wow!!! The word juxtaposition came to mind not sure if it is actually the right use of the word but wow!!

Kids for peace pledge:
I pledge to use my words to speak in a kind way.
I pledge to help others as I go throughout my day.
I pledge to care for our earth with my healing heart and hands.
I pledge to respect people in each and every land.
I pledge to join together as we unite the big and small.
I pledge to do my part to create PEACE for one and all.