9/11: When Does Tragedy Become History?



Eighteen years ago, the United States was brutally targeted and attacked by a group of nineteen al-Qaeda hijackers who had the intent to crash four commercial airplanes into four major buildings within the nation. Only three planes met their target: two into the World Trade Center in New York City and one into the Pentagon in Washington D.C. The fourth plane was crashed into a remote field in Pennsylvania by the brave passengers who sacrificed their lives to protect their country. 2,996 lives were lost— over six thousand were injured. Many Americans could only watch in horror as reports poured in with information that didn’t seem possible.  

As we come to more recent years, most of the millennial generation can’t recall this event on account of how young they were when the attacks took place— others would not be born until long after 9/11. However, some students have many personal ties to the tragedy of September 11th. Virginia Weisar, a student at FHSU born in the year 2001 stated, “Mom was at home on maternity leave for me. Got a call from my dad to turn the TV on,” while in Houston, Texas. Many relatives alerted their immediate family to turn on the news that fateful day no matter the location. Other students remember the news being turned on during their kindergarten classes. 

What about this event made such a large impact on both our education and educators? Most Americans have been taught about the hardship of 9/11, meantime others have been shut down for asking questions over the emotional circumstances. Some students recall hearing personal stories from their teachers. Many of these stories involved watching the news in large groups, while most sat in shocked silence. While some educators dismiss the topic, others, such as FHSU alumni and Trego County middle school teacher, Todd Elsen, don’t shy away from the difficult subject, stating, “I will be teaching the importance (of 9/11) to my middle schoolers.” 

We teach past events in order to connect with and learn from those who came before us. Even when there are no longer people alive who have ties to this misfortune, its aftermath will remain unforgotten, as with every other disaster that rattled the nation in its wake. While this moment is still young and the involved are still here, we, as a nation, should continue to share our stories. Emotions are what we use to tie ourselves to the past. We should always remember the 11th of September.

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