New York Today: Memorializing, After Memorial Day

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Children at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum make art to send to Manchester, England, the site of a recent terrorist attack.

Credit
Alex Wroblewski for The New York Times

Good morning on this cloud-cluttered Tuesday.

Welcome back.

With Memorial Day in our rearview mirror, we wonder: What was it like explaining the meaning of the holiday to the young ones in your lives?

While speaking to children about loss, tragedy and commemoration might not be top-of-mind as we gear up for summer, it’s the focus of a recently opened exhibition at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.

“How do you explain what happened to a 6-year-old?” said Megan Jones, the museum’s director of education programs. She helped create activities that use art to teach children ages 3 to 18 about the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks (and, more recently, other tragedies including the Manchester bombing).

“Even those that are 18 now were 3 then, so they really don’t have a memory of it,” she said of the attacks in the United States. “So we spend as much time explaining what the world used to be like before 9/11 as we do on what happened on 9/11.”

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The educational program is built around the Cover Stories exhibition, which opened on May 19. It traces the evolution of the Twin Towers on covers of The New Yorker, from almost 50 years ago to the present.

When we explored the exhibition, we saw how illustrations that began as whimsical, lighthearted and fairy tale-like became somber, chilling and politically charged — yet still, somehow, poignant and beautiful — after the tragedy.

As museum guides talk students through the 33 covers, they ask questions: What do you notice? What do you think…

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