91/11/2001: The Day That Changed America
9/11: Six Months Later
Young survivors grieve—and remember
by Suzanne McCabe
Reprinted from Junior Scholastic, March 11, 2001

Just before dinner on a Tuesday, the 4:40 ferry pulls into Highlands, New Jersey. Commuters step off the boat from New York City in silence, as a stiff wind whips off the bay.

Those who look back toward Lower Manhattan see something that still shocks. Where two soaring towers once stood, there is only sky.

Other things are different too. My brother Michael is not the first one off the boat. And Taylor Tucker's dad, Mike (also known as "Tuck"), isn't cracking jokes right behind him.

Everyone in the small town of nearby Rumson knows that Michael and Tuck are gone. They know that Jackie Bauer's dad, Dave, whose huge athletic frame towered over all the others, won't be catching the 6:20 boat again.

Brittany Chevalier's big brother, Swede, is gone too. So are Steve Cangialosi, Karl Smith, Ted Luckett, and Donald Robertson—all of them dads.

Our New Jersey county lost 158 people on September 11, that crystal-clear morning when two jets smacked into the World Trade Center. Within the span of an hour and a half, terrorists in four hijacked planes murdered more than 3,000 people—and ripped apart the lives of tens of thousands more.

No "Goodbye Game"
In Manassas, Virginia, 10-year-old Zachary Laychak and his sister, Jennifer, 7, wish they could turn the clock back to September 10, when their dad came home from work for the last time.

"I didn't even get to play a goodbye game with him," says Jennifer. "He was supposed to teach me how to ride a two-wheeler."

Dave Laychak was killed with 188 others when a jumbo jet tore a hole through the Pentagon in Alexandria, Virginia.

A little while after the Pentagon attack, teachers and students at Shanksville-Stonycreek School in Pennsylvania felt their building tremble. They soon saw smoke rising from an abandoned strip mine beyond the playground. A Boeing 757, United Airlines Flight 93, had crashed, leaving 44 passengers and crew members dead, and a trail of debris five miles long.

That afternoon, Terri Jacobs, 16, drove over to Ida's, the only general store in Shanksville. There she made sandwiches to bring to the rescue workers. "My mom and my stepdad, who used to be a fireman, were already at the firehouse," Terri told JS. They and several others went back and forth all night in two trucks, delivering food and supplies to the crash site.

"It felt good because you knew you were helping the families [of the passengers] and the people working out at the site," says Carter Lehman, 11. "You knew you were helping the town."

"United We Stand"
Six months have passed since that agonizing September day. Across the U.S. and around the world, those who lost loved ones, those who were injured in the attacks, and those who live near Ground Zero in New York City, are struggling to rebuild shattered lives. "Everyone around here keeps wanting to tell the story," says Rick King, Shanksville's assistant fire chief. Bearing witness, King believes, will remind people of the courage shown by Flight 93 passengers and crew members, who brought the plane down to spare other lives.

Taylor Tucker doesn't want people to forget either. She, her best friend, Sasha Sickles, and 12-year-old Jackie Bauer made memory bracelets in honor of the dead. One navy-blue bracelet reads: "United We Stand." Another says: "NYC-9/11-DC." The money the girls raised will help firefighters and other workers at Ground Zero. Nearly every student at Rumson Country Day School now owns a bracelet. That makes the girls feel good. "The only thing we can do," says Jackie, "is remember and honor those we loved."

Jackie misses her dad every day. But the support of her community and nation has given her strength. The terrorists "tried to change our everyday lives," Jackie says. "We just came together and pulled through—America did."

Teens For Teens
At nearby Red Bank Regional High School, Brittany Chevalier, 15, and Brad Smith, 16, have started a group called Teens For Teens. Their mission: to help teens through the grieving process, and to help local moms affected by September 11. They also make time for fun—ski trips, movies at the mall, and bowling nights. Like many grieving teens, Brittany finds herself laughing one minute and crying the next. She has grown up a lot since losing her brother, Swede. "I realize that some things aren't that important," Brittany told JS. "Spending time with people you really love, that's important."

Taylor Tucker, the oldest of four girls, is also trying to adjust to "the new normal"—to life without her dad.

"At school, people treat me very nicely," Taylor says. She pauses. "It feels strange. I just want them to treat me normally. I hope they will."

"Anybody who is alive is not a hero. They're just doing their job."— Lt. Bill D'Emic

A New Nation
Signs of a changed nation are everywhere—long airport lines, sporting events where security is extra tight, and military planes flying into the unknown. And at least for now, firefighters, police officers, and soldiers have replaced celebrities as our new heroes. Lieutenant Bill D'Emic of the New York City Fire Department has spent several months at Ground

Zero, searching for human remains.
"It's the hardest job I ever had in my life," he told JS. Does D'Emic consider himself a hero? "The heroes are dead," he says, gesturing toward a pile of rubble. "Anybody who is alive is not a hero. They're just doing their job." People of Arab descent, meanwhile, sometimes get suspicious stares or mean words. But they have also received words of support and understanding from their fellow Americans, including President Bush.

What changes have you noticed since September 11?