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Kansas remembers 9/11: The children

  • Published Saturday, Sep. 10, 2011, at 4:11 p.m.
  • Updated Tuesday, May 28, 2013, at 2:13 p.m.

The people featured in this package suffered personal loss from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, endured fallout from them, or worked in fields that evolved in a world changed by them. Their stories, shared with Eagle reporter Fred Mann, are presented here in their own words.

J.D. and Katie Nolan's dad, Dan Nolan, died in the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. He was assistant vice president for computer technology at Marsh & McLennan. Their mother Renee, a native Kansan, moved the family from New Jersey to Wichita after the attack. She married Gary Riley in 2005 and has written a book, "Wind Through My Soul," which will be published in April.

J.D., 17, will attend college in Dallas next year. Katie, 13, is a student at Central Christian Academy. Here, they talk about life since that day.

J.D.: "I remember my Grandma Nolan picking me up from school or a friend's house, which was really odd. When I got to the house, there was just a bunch of cars and people there, and no one would tell me what was going on.

"I walked inside. People were watching the news. No one would really tell me anything, so I ended up just going to my room. I think I sort of understood that something was wrong.

"Eventually I heard they were trying to find my dad. I don't really think I grasped it like I should have. I don't think I understood enough of what was happening to be too worried. I guess I sort of assumed he'd just come back tomorrow.

"I remember we were more buddies than father and son. I remember calling him Dan instead of Dad. I remember him taking me to work sometimes, sitting at his computer playing video games.

"I think I would probably be a lot different if I'd grown up my entire life with a father. I'd probably be a little more open. It's kind of hard to explain. I'd probably be less independent.

"I've told my friends about it. They say, 'I'm sorry, that's a big thing to go through.' I'm, like, 'Yeah, it happened 10 years ago. I've moved on.'

"It's really not a huge part of my life anymore. It doesn't seem to affect me that much. Even watching shows like South Park and Family Guy, there's the occasional joke that involves 9/11, and it's not a big deal. If it's funny, I laugh. I don't avoid thinking about it, but I don't think I should base my entire life around it.

Katie: "When it comes up, I do feel sad about it. It was a big tragedy. Every year, 9/11 comes on, and I think people should move on because it makes me feel sad all over again. I really didn't meet my dad. 9/11 has kept coming on every year. It keeps getting me more sad because I didn't know him.

J.D.: "I do remember a couple of years after 9/11, when I was in grade school, a teacher gave us a flag that was flying over Afghanistan or Iraq. So some of my teachers have been pretty cool about it. Others don't mention it."

Katie: "They have talked about it in school, but it's been 10 years. When people expect that I should feel horrible and start crying during class... it has been 10 years. I've grown up and dealt with it for 10 years."

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