How Mister Rogers' Heartwarming Message About 9/11 Helped a Devastated Nation Grieve

"What children probably need to hear most from us adults, is that they can talk with us about anything," Mister Rogers said in one video, which aired on the first anniversary of the attacks

Mister Rogers
Mister Rogers. Photo: Mister Rogers

Mister Rogers didn't shy away from addressing difficult topics — and 9/11 was no exception.

Although the late television icon's show was already off the air at the time, Fred Rogers' producers encouraged him to record a series of messages addressing the terrorist attacks, according to Today.

However, Rogers — who lived part-time in New York City and was originally from Pennsylvania, where Flight 93 crashed after passengers were able to stop a hijacked plane from reaching the U.S. Capitol — initially struggled with what to say.

"I just don't know what good these are gonna do," he said in a conversation with producer Margy Whitmer featured in the 2018 documentary Won't You Be My Neighbor?, per Biography.com.

Ultimately, Rogers ended up recording four videos, which aired on the first anniversary of the attacks, according to Snopes. The videos ended up being the last Rogers filmed at the studio where he made Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood before his death in February 2003.

In one message aimed at parents, Rogers said that although it may be difficult, it's important to have open conversations with children in order to help them feel safe.

"Some parents wonder how to handle world news with their young children," he said in one video, reported Today. "Well we at family communications have discovered that when children bring up something frightening it's helpful right away to ask them what they know about it."

"We often find that their fantasies are very different than the actual truth. What children probably need to hear most from us adults, is that they can talk with us about anything. And that we will do all we can to keep them safe in any scary time," he continued. "I'm always glad to be your neighbor.

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In another video, Rogers told viewers how proud he was of them.

"I would like to tell you what I often told you when you were much younger. I like you just the way you are," he said in the message, according to Biography.com.

"And what's more, I'm so grateful to you for helping the children in your life to know that you'll do everything you can to keep them safe," he continued. "And to help them express their feelings in ways that will bring healing in many different neighborhoods."

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