Sunday, September 16, 2007

Odds and Ends of the week

Among the stories that came into the newsroom this week that I couldn't get to:

Amy writes to tell me about a co-worker's boyfriend, who is an Iraq war veteran and who used the money he saved from his overseas service to buy his dream motorcycle. On September 11th, his bike was stolen from West Akron and a person riding it later died in a crash on Route 8. Setting aside the awful tragedy on the highway, the bike's owner didn't have theft insurance and is now out big bucks and his transportation becoming, unfortunately, another veteran down on his luck.
A woman in Stark County swears that her community has just sold an unused elementary school to a developer who plans to turn it into a half-way house for sex offenders. She can quote sale prices and contracts as to a major fear for the neighbors of their once proud school. Now she says the transformation is on hold and not to do a story just yet -- stay tuned.

Another lady continues to email me about her sick cat, while two different people contacted me this week to see if I would speak to their college-aged kids about career paths. One told me, "he just needs some decent direction otherwise he's going to live here at home forever." Not sure I can really work enough time into my schedule for those challenges, but it's nice to be asked.

I had the privilege of speaking to 100+ 4th and 5th graders on Sept. 11th at Miller South School for the Performing Arts. I tried to give them a brief -- and non-violent -- overview of the day's significance and then touch on why soldiers like me and thousands of other troops had been deployed in mass to the Middle East. And oh yeah, I had to do it all in about 40 minutes. Challenging you say???

Remembering that these kids were in pre-school or kindergarten six years ago and yet are still just 10-11 years old, I felt it was better to undersell the story than oversell it. I showed pre-9/11 pictures of the World Trade Center and Pentagon and then showed a picture of Osama Bin Laden, telling the kids that he was the man who lead a group of bad guys to attack those places and harm our people. Then I showed a picture of President Bush and talked of how it was his job to capture Bin Laden and his group and bring them to justice. I didn't feel the need to show pictures of burning buildings or rubble to get the point across, hoping the students would follow along without the images of violence and death.

It was tough to segue into Iraq ... but after showing a map of the Middle East, I pointed out how Iraq is to the East of Afghanistan and simply said that the President felt that Iraq was also a danger to us and that's why we sent troops there. From that moment on my presentation was easy. I did some show-and-tell with military uniforms and artifacts I'd brought home with me from the war, including children's school books written in Arabic and some newspapers. The kids loved that part and filled the rest of the time with questions about how hot it is in the war zone and what it's like to be away so long. Near the end of my presentation, I discovered that several students were Muslims with may relatives still living in the Middle East.

What amazed me was how easily children will believe and grasp something as broad as 9/11 if you just keep the explanation simple and at their level. I didn't really sell it as light as a fairy tale, but I also didn't want to scare the dress code out of these kids either. Still, I'm hopeful that this isn't the last lesson of 9/11 and Iraq these kids get as they grow in our schools.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yes, let's hope somebody tells these kids that Bush refused to go after Bin Laden and lied our country into a needless and tragic war in Iraq.