Tags: First | Lady | Appears | 'Oprah'

First Lady Appears on 'Oprah'

Tuesday, 18 September 2001 12:00 AM

"I want every parent to put their arms around their children and assure them they are loved," said Bush, a former librarian and teacher, in her appearance on the nationally televised Chicago talk show program. "I feel like everyone does - sadness, anxiety - but I know that everything is being done to make sure that America is safe."

Bush's interview with talk show maven Oprah Winfrey comes one week after hijackers commandeered two commercial passenger jets and crashed them into the World Trade Center towers in New York. A third hijacked airliner was crashed into the Pentagon building outside Washington and a fourth airplane that federal authorities believed was intended for either the White House or U.S. Capitol crashed outside of Pittsburgh before reaching its target.

On the program aired Tuesday from the Harpo Studios in Chicago, Laura Bush said she found out about the attacks while on her way to the U.S. Senate where she was scheduled to testify before an education committee. Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., met her at the door of the Senate building and she told him they would have to cancel the hearing.

Shortly after, Bush said, she and her staff were evacuated by the U.S. Secret Service to a secure location.

"The first thing I did was call my girls to make sure they were safe. They couldn't believe I was waking them up. They didn't know," Bush said of her daughters Barbara and Jenna who were away in college. Then, she said, she called her own mother to draw reassurance from her.

"My mother - in her generation - and my father lived through something very similar, an attack on Pearl Harbor," the first lady said, referring to the 1941 attack by the Japanese on the naval base in Hawaii.

Laura Bush suggested that parents and teachers work together to explain to children the meaning of what was happening, reassure them they are safe and encourage them to talk about their fears. She recommended engaging children in activities to take their minds off of what is happening. She said parents had to realize that children were attempting to cope with many of the same feelings as adults. She emphasized that those feelings of anger, uncertainly and confusion were natural.

Bush appeared on the talk program with psychologist and "life strategist" Phillip McGraw who explained that the world of children was much smaller than that of adults. He stressed that young children seeing the television videotape of the attack cannot discern that it happened only once.

"Turn the television off and talk about other things," McGraw said. He stressed that it was important to let the children know it was an isolated event. "A lot of children who have seen this replayed a number of times, think it's happening over and over again. We need to talk about it and put it in context."

One day after the incident that rocked America to its core, Laura Bush issued a letter to the nation's children to reassure them they were safe and giving them ways to deal with their fears.

"I want to reassure you that many people - including your family, your teachers, and your school counselor - love and care about you and are looking out for your safety. You can talk with them and ask them questions. You can also write down your thoughts or draw a picture that shows how you are feeling and share that with the adults in your life," the first lady wrote.

She stressed in her interview the need for national unity. She praised Americans for their show of support with displays of the flag and well-wishers who tell her that they're praying for the first family and the country.

"One thing all of us know is that right now is a time that faith is so important. We are a nation of every faith and every race and we need to remember that especially during this time," Bush said.

Copyright 2001 by United Press International. All rights reserved.

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I want every parent to put their arms around their children and assure them they are loved, said Bush, a former librarian and teacher, in her appearance on the nationally televised Chicago talk show program. I feel like everyone does - sadness, anxiety - but I know that...
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2001-00-18
Tuesday, 18 September 2001 12:00 AM
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