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Participants in Fairbanks 9/11 memorial service recall day life changed for the United States

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Posted: Sunday, September 11, 2011 11:38 pm | Updated: 1:26 pm, Wed Jan 16, 2013.

FAIRBANKS — For many, the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks are forever tied to vivid, personal memories — where we were, what we were doing and how we felt when we heard the World Trade Center Towers were hit. And while the audience at Pioneer Park was largely filled with stern-faced firefighters, the crowd was also dotted with dozens of young faces that came into the world well after 9/11 changed it.

It’s at events like the memorial for the 343 that some parents have found a way to introduce and teach children about the terrorist attacks that occurred a decade ago.

Tiffany Seale, a mother of two who attended the 9/11 memorial events at Pioneer Park, remembers the events with raw clarity — she was 18, in college and watching the morning news when she saw the towers fall — brought her 6-year-old daughter, Sara, and 15-month old daughter, Josselyn.

“It’s an emotion that can’t be learned,” Seale said. “It’s something you had to experience at that time.”

And even though Sara, whose father is serving in Afghanistan, grew restless during the chilly two-hour memorial, her mother, who also served in the Middle East, saw it as an important way to help her daughter undstand the emotions of the event.

“It was important for me to be here and give her a first-hand account of a memorial ceremony,” Seale said.

“She’s starting to understand why dad’s at war and why our country is coming together for these events like today.”

For others, the day was a first step of many to explain the events.

“I don’t know that he’ll fully understand what today is all about,” said Joel Tuning, while watching his 4-year-old son, Braden, jump over puddles.

“But he loved seeing the firetrucks.”

At the end of the day, the event wasn’t just about teaching children about the shock and grief of 9/11 — or even the event’s repercussions — it was about teaching them about a moment where the country rallied together.

“Nobody wanted to be alone, everybody wanted to feel that community togetherness,” she said. “Those things were felt for months after the events.”

Contact staff writer Matt Buxton at 459-7544.

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