ONE YEAR LATER

September 11, 2002 12:00 am

By Dick Mason

Observer Staff Writer

When children reflect on how they felt a year ago on Sept. 11, 2001, what words and feelings come to mind?

Fear, respect and sorrow are three of the most prominent.

"I felt bad for the children (of the 9/11 victims) who wouldn't have parents,'' said Taylor Mutch, a fourth-grader, at Greenwood Elementary School.

The tragedy also made Taylor take stock of his blessings.

"It made me feel respectful of what I had ... the family and friends that I have,'' he said.

Taylor is one of five Greenwood students who recently shared their reflections about 9/11.

Fifth-grader Charlotte Quebbeman said that she was fearful for several weeks after the attack.

"I was afraid that they were going to bomb La Grande,'' Charlotte said.

The terrorists struck hours before school started, thus most children knew about it by the time they arrived at Greenwood. Fifth-grader Shelby Hasse will never forget the mood at school the morning of Sept. 11, 2001.

"Everyone was in tears,'' Shelby said.

She and the other students said that they felt better after their teachers spent about a half hour explaining what had happened and reassuring them.

Several students said they felt thankful that they lived in La Grande and not a big city that might be a terrorist target.

Fifth-grader Clancy Strand said that he had never wanted to live in a big city before and that he has never felt stronger about this since 9/11.

Sixth-grader Carley Miller had a similar sentiment, noting that she would never want to live in a crowded place because of what happened.

Clancy was among those who was alarmed when anthrax spores began being mailed in the United States following the 9/11 attacks. This was interpreted by some to mean that nobody was safe.

"Letters go far and wide,'' Clancy said.

What is the most lasting memory that the Greenwood students will have of 9/11?

Charlotte will never forget the images of people jumping out of the World Trade Center towers. Shelby will always remember the story of people who risked their lives to help others get down a staircase that had not yet collapsed in one of the towers.

Taylor also has the highest regard for the heroes of 9/11.

"I am respectful of the police and firemen who tried to save lives. They gave their own lives to try to save others,'' the fourth-grader said.

Taylor said that one of the many disturbing things about the attacks is that they changed the order of things.

"They took something that was supposed to safe and peaceful and turned it into a weapon,'' Taylor said about passenger jets.

A year later the pain of 9/11 has eased but the heartache will never completely disappear, according to Clancy.

"I don't think that we will ever completely heal,'' the fifth-grader said.