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10-year-old shares her perspective of American tragedy

COAL GROVE – Giant letters scrawl along the page top, spelling out: "The Land of the free.

Sunday, September 16, 2001

COAL GROVE – Giant letters scrawl along the page top, spelling out: "The Land of the free." Smaller ones below, in practiced graphite strokes, form the words of Cassie Owens – writer, philosopher, 10-year-old.

"There was an attack on America ," she pencils, winding her little girl way through Tuesday’s devastation to make a point.

You don’t have to read it, though. Just ask.

Cassie knows exactly what message she wants to get across, flashing a young smile full of resolve.

"Cherish every moment," she’ll say.

Scared? A little shrug. Maybe. She doesn’t like war.

Then, thinking about those responsible, she’ll add quickly, "They probably should teach them a lesson. Treat them like they treated the people on the planes."

Melody York smiles, too – not just about her daughter’s quick judgment, but about Cassie’s thoughts before bedtime that day.

"When she got done praying, she said, ‘I hope this brings people closer to God.’"

It’s a shame, really, mom adds. "It’s going to be hard for a while, and scary for the little ones, but we’ll make it."

Why? Well, people feel closer to God, just like in Cassie’s prayer.

"Our country has a strong faith in God, so they pull together and that’s important," Melody says. "We may have violence in our own country but in times like this, we pull together."

You can’t give up faith. Even on a fixed income, you can pray, she adds.

And, you can smile a smile like Cassie’s that, despite a nation’s mourning or a pledged war on terrorism, remains innocent, full of teeth, a perfect match to eyes sparkling for the future.

Something no terrorist, no hijacked plane, no collapsed buildings, can remove from this nation, from this country – from Cassie’s America.

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The Land of the Free

Today, September 11, 2001

There was an attack on America. Three buildings. The World Trade Center and the Pentagon got hit by hijacked planes. The World Trade Centers got hit by two planes, and the Pentagon got hit with one. There was one building, the World Trade Center number 7. It collapsed because the damage of the three buildings. It is devastating and tragic. It started at 7:30 a.m. and it is 9:24 p.m. and hasn’t ended. It probably will go on for about a week or two. More than 3,000 people are dead. That’s why we should cerish every moment of our lives. We could go any time. Whether you’re on a plane, in a building, or on the street.

– By Cassie Owens, age 10