On Friday I taught my class on 9/11. You have to realize that every
single student in the class had no memory at all of that day. 75% of
the class was not even born then. To
them 9/11 is the same as JFK being assassinated is to me. I know what
happened, and I think I understand how everyone felt, but it is ancient
history. A history before my recollection of time. To the students in
my class 9/11 is this day where you should show respect, but they don't
I asked them
how many other classes mentioned anything about 9/11... and none did.
This isn't because Friday was 9/9, because in the last few years the
date has fallen on a school day, but still, no teacher really tells them
what went on. Many of these students will volunteer to go off and
fight the war... the war that will never end... and have no idea why
they are there. My class is 90 minutes of that day. I teach
them what brought on the Islamic terrorists wanting to do such a thing.
I go from the beginning, with Carter's response to the Iranians taking
over the US Embassy, and go all the way up to that day in September. I
show them how Bin Laden came to power, and what motivated him. I then
show them the footage of the day, and I show them the one thing that no
one ever mentions, that no one ever shows on TV... and it is the one
thing that every single one of us who was alive that day remembers
most... the hundreds jumping out of the Towers. Choosing their own
death, versus being burned alive. It was not just one, not just a dozen, but hundreds. Again. and Again. and Again. and Again. For an hour. and Again. and Again. and Again. Until the Towers themselves fell. In my class it was quiet... incredibly quiet.
These are teenagers. They make up all walks of life, and they are the
typical bunch... you have the smartass Bart Simpson types. You have the
gangsta wannabes. You have students who barely understand English and
are not ever from here. You have those who would rather spend a day on
their cell phones than look at another human being. However the class was quiet. Totally silent. Every now and then I would hear a slight cry. A sniffle. Some wiping away tears.
I let them go out to do a group bathroom break in the middle of the
class... and they are silent. . When some do talk, they speak in
whispers. So, they understand. So now they know why they will go to another country to fight.
Soon, there will be no more classes on 9/11. I will retire in a few
years. Soon the next generation will not know what happened. Or else
they will believe, like many in my class did, that 9/11 was all made up
and remote controlled airplanes, or cruise missiles... or holograms
(yes, one student believed that) flew into a building that was wired
with explosives so George Bush could make millions. But now, for a small group of students, they know.