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"Never Forget"

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Wednesday, September 11, 2019 @ 1:58 PM
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Rebecca Davis Editor at Large MORE

Sadly, it’s becoming harder to remember and easier to forget… 

We got up this morning, just like any other – always in a rush to get out the door for school and work. Surprisingly, we were doing ok and on time, but the closer we got to the school, the more the traffic was backed up. 

I made it through the line faster than I expected. Dropped off the kids and still had 15 minutes to get to the office. Being that none of us are morning people, I was feeling rather accomplished on this particular Wednesday. 

I proudly waved to my sweet friend who was still stuck in the heavy traffic. She didn’t wave back. I figured she was stressing because the clock was ticking, the tardy bell nearing, and the traffic creeping. 

Then a few minutes later, I received this text: 

The kids said you waved at me this morning. So sorry I missed it! I was very involved in my patriotic speech about September 11. I must have gone on and on too long because they were zoning out by the time I was pulling into school. 

September 11. Yep. It sure was, and it hadn’t even crossed my mind. 

That sense of accomplishment I was feeling a few minutes prior – gone! In my mind, I gladly and willingly presented sweet Angie with the “Mom of the Year” award that she so deserved. She spent the drive to school sharing with her children about 9/11. 

And she wasn’t bragging about it. Her honest text was a simple apology for not waving. But she has no clue that her text said so much more to me as a fellow laborer in this thing called motherhood. 

The Lord used her text as a gentle and humble reminder of how blessed I am to have her as my friend, encourager, and example and…as a convicting reminder of how quickly I had forgotten. 

Eighteen years ago, Americans vowed to “never forget.” Signs, posters, T-shirts, “banners, and various types of media were emblazoned with these words following the darkest day in our nation’s history. 

But with each passing year, those words require more and more action be put behind them so that future generations have an understanding of the events that took place that day and an appreciation for the lives that were lost. 

That is why Kristie Kiernan Bouryal, author and CEO of Context Productions, wrote Discovering Heroes, a three-book series for children, specifically ages 7 to 11. The books are based on true events related to 9/11and are intended to teach children about that historic day while creating appreciation and respect for everyday heroes. 

“We have a whole generation of kids who are largely uninformed about 9/11, yet we are on track to lose more people to 9/11-related illnesses than we lost that day,” Bouryal said. 

Bouryal is the daughter of John Kiernan, a former lieutenant in the Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY) who responded to the tragic events that day. According to Business Wire, Kiernan is a “former officer with Rescue 1 Company and featured in the rescue segment of the Oliver Stone-directed movie World Trade Center. Mr. Kiernan's heroic efforts, along with other Rescue Company personnel, helped save the lives of John McLaughlin (played by Nicholas Cage) and Will Jimeno (played by Michael Pena).”

So if you recognize the name, that’s why. Kierman was part of the rescue efforts that pulled the last living man from the World Trade Center ruins.

Bouryal’s father and his experiences, along with her mother Benita, who is a former nurse, are the ones who inspired the book series. The series tells the story of grandparents who teach their grandchildren about 9/11 by telling them personal stories, answering questions, and taking them to special points of interest such as the FDNY Rescue Company 1 firehouse, Angels’ Circle, One World Trade Center, and the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, among other places.

The events of the day and the experiences that followed are retold through informal conversations and dialogue between Grandpa, Grandma, and their grandchildren –Tyler, Olivia, and Sophia.

“I wrote the books in the series to be age and comprehension appropriate and to spark dialogue between adults and kids about that day,” Bouryal told The Stand. “The stories unfold because of the young characters’ natural inquisitiveness, and I wanted dialogue to unfold like that as well.” 

Bouryal’s desire is to educate through real-life conversations, and her books are a great resource for parents, grandparents, and teachers to use to initiate those conversations. The more we tell, the more they will know. And the more they know, the less they will forget.

Each book in the Discovering Heroes Series is colorfully illustrated and includes a brief glossary of words that may be unfamiliar to young readers. Two of the books include real photos of people and places pertinent to 9/11. There are also lesson plans and teaching materials available for each book here.

Grandpa says it best when talking to his grandchildren at the end of Book 3: “I am so proud of you for being so excited to learn more about September 11, 2001. It was an important day in our country’s history and a day that changed many lives forever. It’s important that you understand what we experienced so you can help others understand and never forget.”

May we be faithful like Grandpa…and my friend Angie…to pass history from one generation to the next so that America truly never forgets.

Editor’s Note: “My Buddy’s a Hero – And I Didn’t Even Know It,” “Remembering Heroes,” and “9/11 Courage and Tributes,” all three books in the Discovering Heroes Series, are available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and fdnyshop.com

 

Kristie Kiernan Bouryal

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