In times of sadness, writing can heal. I experienced this first hand when my own daughter died at 26 in a caving accident in Mexico. After the initial shock, as they days slowly passed waiting for her funeral, I found myself isolated in the backyard just writing about her. Through this healing process, I found a connection to her that I could share to help heal others.
I found the same to be true with my students after 9-11 when everyone was in shock. I led my fourth grade students in writing odes to America. By connecting with everything that America gives to us, we were able to help each other heal from this terrible tragedy. As it turned out, we framed the students poems on patriotic paper, mounted them all on a bulletin board, and sold them at a school event.
The parents were so moved to see the passion that each student poured out about this country that they just moved from poem to poem in silence. Many told me that these poems helped them to heal and were taken home and hung in places of honor. I know I still keep my teacher’s anthology in a place of honor.
Now we are faced with another senseless national tragedy. The villains who perpetuate these crimes steal more than lives – they steal our children’s sense of security. Writing can help restore the power of personal safety if we just let our children talk and write about their fears and them about the positives in their lives.
Here’s a sample Ode to America:
Ode to the Heroes
By Kelsey French, fourth grader in 2001
Over 300 hundred of you sacrificed your lives for others
Like angels radiantly praising God.
Your good deeds
Spread across our nation
Challenging us to follow your examples.
You still kept your
Heads high and became
As rough as proud elephant.
Do you know
How much the children
Of the world relish you?
How much do you think you
Accomplished by your great deeds?
Everybody said you increased
In strength as powerfully
As David’s saving the world
You’ve risen as swiftly
As eagles to shield your fledglings
In the Twin Towers.
So we pledge to you,
Heroes, for all the deeds you’ve done,
Let us be one America