WASHINGTON – First lady Laura Bush is asking parents to turn off the television on Sept. 11 and instead read to their children and perhaps light a memorial candle.
"Don't let your children see the images, especially on Sept. 11, when you know it'll probably be on television again and again — the plane hitting the building or the buildings falling," Mrs. Bush said in an interview Friday with Univision, a Spanish-language TV network.
Photos and videotaped images of that day already are appearing in TV newscasts, newspapers and magazines as the country prepares to remember the more than 3,000 people killed when hijacked planes crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and Somerset, Pa.
Parents who decide to allow their older children to watch television on the anniversary should limit the time they spend in front of the set, Mrs. Bush said.
Children need assurance they are safe, and it's important to remember and mourn those who died and support victims' families, she said.
The heroes need to be remembered, too, she said.
"We saw a handful of people do something so horrible, but then we saw so many other people, on the other hand, do good things. The firemen, policemen, rescue workers — the children themselves," Mrs. Bush said. "It's really great for families to figure out ways to let their children be involved and be helpful."
She encouraged parents to read and spend time with their children to comfort them.
"I also think it's a time if parents want to do this, especially if your children are a little older, to have a little, you know, memorial service of your own. Maybe light a candle," Mrs. Bush told Telemundo, another Spanish-language TV network, in a separate interview broadcast Friday.
The first lady, speaking in English, recalled how insecure she and other Americans felt after learning of the attacks but said security has improved since then.
However, people still need to be aware she said, repeating advice her husband, President Bush, gave Americans last year.
"I do believe we're a safer nation. I really do," Mrs. Bush said. "I think many Americans are vigilant, not only is our government ... but I think in general the American people are doing the same thing."
"I really want to encourage people to continue to do that, to go about your life in a normal way but to be vigilant."
In a third interview, with ABC's This Week With Sam Donaldson and Cokie Roberts, Mrs. Bush recalled that a reporter asked her what parents should tell their children. "And I think really that's when it first occurred to me that we had say something to our children."
"I mean, my children are grown, and I still felt like I had to reassure them," said Mrs. Bush, whose twin daughters Jenna and Barbara are 20 years old. "And then, to be perfectly frank, I called my mother because I wanted her to reassure me."
The ABC interview was taped Friday for broadcast Sunday.