We all remember that day. Where we were, who we were with; the images stay ingrained in our memory. Ten years ago, as the twin towers fell, our country lost so much, so many. But, for the kids who lost parents, their whole world was changed forever.
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These were mothers and fathers who on that clear-blue morning left for work, and would never come home. These were professionals, firemen and first responders, some who weren't scheduled to work but took the call to serve. These men and women were the epitome of service and all that is good in our country.Video: 9/11 camp for kids instills resilience (on this page)
Ten years later, their kids have experienced many milestones: birthdays, graduations, first dates, proms. They have grown into teenagers, college students, caring adults. Many have learned to heal with the help of laughter and a bond with others who know the deep pain of loss.
America's Camp, a free camp for those that lost parents on 9/11, began ten years ago, in the wake of that tragedy. However, when we visited the camp in Massachusetts this August we were greeted, not by sadness, but by laughter and the warmth of family.
The 190 kids, the majority now teenagers, and counselors at the camp are bonded by ten years of summers spent dancing, having fun and remembering.Story: Five must-read books about 9/11 and its legacy
I met 12 year-old Timmy, who had been entering his first day of pre-school on September 11th, 2001. His father, Sergeant Timothy Roy, took the day off to pick his son up from school. But, Sergeant Roy got a call that morning and reported for duty. He never came home to pick up Timmy. Timmy doesn't remember much about his father, but at camp, he loves to share the few memories he has. "He kind of would brighten the mood of anything that would happen," he told me. For Timmy and his two older sisters, this one week in August has become a time to reflect, but also a time to heal and move on. What impressed me most about this 12-year-old was his compassion for others. Timmy says camp isn't just about remembering his dad; it's also about helping others with their pain as well. "America's camp is to remember everyone who (was) lost. Cause you know, it's not just you; it's everyone else that you have to help support."Story: Rebuilding a life in the wake of September 11th
They were labeled "the kids of 9/11," but they are so much more and many refuse to be defined by that day. Encouraged by the memories of the ones they lost, they told me they live to make their parents proud and to make a difference. They said that this camp, a place where they could come to heal, was a gift. Spending the day with these amazing kids was a true gift. The camp has decided that on this 10-year anniversary, it will be closing its doors.
But the strength of these kids and their desire to make our world a place of peace will live on.
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