Tonight at the dinner table (John was at a late meeting, so he missed out on this):
H: Mom. It's September 11.
H: Do you know why today is a sad day?
N: Yes. Do you? (thinking: It's been kind of a long day, I don't know if I can do this conversation. And, please, please don't ask me what this has to do with the war in Iraq.)
H: Six years ago, in 2001, planes crashed into buildings and people died. Lots of people. Mom, why would a plane crash into a building?
N: Well, there are people who think that Americans are awful people and some of them decided together to get on big airplanes--just like if they were going on a normal trip--and when the planes were in the air, they went into the cockpit and told the pilots to let them fly the planes or else they would kill the pilots. That's called hijacking. And then they took over flying the planes and flew them right into the biggest buildings around because they wanted a lot of Americans to die.
H: Those people should go to jail!
N: Well, Hannah, they died when they crashed the airplanes into the buildings. And in one of the airplanes, some of the passengers were able to overtake the hijackers so the plane didn't crash into a building, it crashed into a field instead.
H: So, the people on the plane died, but it didn't kill any other people?
N: That's right. Some of the people on that airplane were very brave. (thinking: Man, my daughter's sharp!)
H: That's good! It's sad for people to die, but it's still good that more people didn't die. It's too bad that airplane couldn't just land like this--she makes her hand swoop down and land gently on the table--on the field.
Jonah's been listening to this exchange, wide-eyed.
j: But why would the guys want anybody to die? Why would they fly airplanes into buildings?
N: You know, we don't really know why they did it. They were angry and they wanted everyone to know how angry they were and they thought that killing people would be a way to show how angry they were. But we don't really know what they were thinking or why they did it.
H: Kind of like the dinosaurs: we have ideas about how they died, but no one knows for sure how it happened. But we do know that it did happen and the dinosaurs are extinct now.