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 “He was hearing Bill Lawton. They were saying bin Laden.” (Falling Man page 73)


In the chaos and panic of September 11th no one bothered to explain to the children what was going on, they kept it all hush-hush. The parents reasoned that by not saying anything it would shelter their children, keeping them safe from the atrocities of that day. Most parents did not want their children to bear witness to how terrified the city had become and become scared themselves. There was a protective bubble put around the children, guarding them from the outside world. But the children were exposed to September 11th just as much as the adults, they were able to see the devastation and realize that something big had just happened.

The difference between the adults and the children is that the adults knew what had happened and the children did not. Lianne and Keith’s son Justin witnessed September 11th and the fear that engulfed the city. His two friends known simple as the siblings, also witnessed the towers falling and the total confusion that followed the attacks. Neither of the parents explained in detail what was going on, forcing the children to find their own explanation for the attacks; the children were curious.  The children developed a secret code language that they employed when they sat at the window—a code that they use to talk about a strange man. Both Lianne and the sibling’s mother were not sure what sort of code their children are using, but they attribute it to, “three kids just being kids” (17). The mothers were still in a daze like the rest of the city, unaware of how the lack of information was affecting their kids’ as well. Justin stole a pair of binoculars from his parents and spent his time watching the sky. At first his parents thought he is looking at the birds, they did not realize that he and his friends were scanning the sky for more planes. It was not until there was a connection made with the code name Bill Lawton that Lianne and Keith realize their son was searching for more planes, specifically the plane with Bill Lawton. “No, it’s definitely something to do with Bill Lawton. I’m sure if this, absolutely because the binoculars are part of the whole hush-hush syndrome these kids are engulfed in.”(37) It was not until much of the confusion and panic died down that Keith finally realized who his son had been secretly talking about and scanning the sky for. “He was hearing Bill Lawton. They were saying Bin Laden.”(73) To explain what had happened Justin and the siblings had taken snippets of misinterpreted news information and developed them into a myth they could believe. The protective distance that was put between the children and the news ultimately did not work. Rather than making the children more secure in an information-free bubble, the distance put between the children and the truth harmed them more.


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