Twenty years later: The importance of remembering 9/11 and recognizing its relevance

8th+grade+student+Zach+Zuiderveen+looks+at+the+official+9%2F11+Memorial+%26+Museum+Website+after+learning+about+it+in+Mrs.+Hall%E2%80%99s+class.

Alyse Zuiderveen

8th grade student Zach Zuiderveen looks at the official 9/11 Memorial & Museum Website after learning about it in Mrs. Hall’s class.

Alyse Zuiderveen, Copy Editor

When the first of two planes hit the Twin Towers on Sept. 11, 2001, Americans were left in shock as their sense of security changed forever. 

As the day continued, the world would watch the devastating news broadcast of four planes causing destruction in America. As a result of this tragic day 20 years ago, Americans have experienced great changes in various facets of their life. 

Before 9/11, Americans had a naive sense of security and terrorism was rarely discussed. Issues such as terrorism seemed distant from America, and it was as if they could never be a reality. 

When this once-distant thought transpired, many individuals had to adjust to the new threats 9/11 introduced and experienced a paradigm shift. This change in mentality has created a divide between younger generations and those who have experienced 9/11. Generations who did not experience that day cannot imagine life without the looming threat of terrorism, while those who experienced this tragedy can compare the America they knew before the events of 9/11 to the America they know now. 

Unfortunately, due to this historic event being glanced over in most educational curricula, the divide between generations continues to widen; adolescents fail to gain a deeper knowledge on such a detrimental yet pivotal event that has shaped much of America today.

A lack of instruction about 9/11 risks the tragedy of that day being forgotten and, along with it, the lives of courageous heroes and others who lost their lives.

At PVJH, however, the history department spends intentional time teaching their students about that impactful day. 

Junior high history teacher Amber Hall is strategic in what she shows because she is aware that most students have no prior knowledge or limited knowledge about the events of 9/11 when they begin her patriotism unit. “We show the documentary of ‘Surviving 9/11’ and this documentary shares the story about people that were in the towers or Pentagon or near them and helped save others!” she shared. 

Hall believes that Patriotic Week at the Junior High serves as a reminder that “[e]ven in the darkest, worst times we can really come together and be a UNITED States of America”. 

This teaching has proved advantageous for many students such as 8th grader Dillon Kraus, who has learned a lot from the instruction of 9/11 in junior high. When describing what he learned about 9/11, Kraus shared that he was surprised about the change in security across the country and “how much destruction there was, especially from dust and debris falling from the collapsing building”. 

Kraus also shared that he enjoys learning about the bravery of people on 9/11, specifically those who gave their lives by willingly sacrificing for the greater good.

This willing sacrifice has not been properly recognized, however, as the remains of many individuals who died on 9/11 have not been identified, even though 20 years have passed. 

During this time period, an investigation has been conducted to find and identify the remains of 9/11 victims. 1,106 of the 2,753 victims remain unidentified to this day, which has left families unable to properly grieve and bury their loved ones. 

In August, new technology allowed for a victim of the 9/11 attacks, Dorothy Morgan, to be identified through advanced DNA testing. Morgan became the first victim identified since 2019, and the examiners who matched her DNA told the New York Times that they will continue to investigate until all victims have been identified.

As we reflect on Sept. 11, 2001 as the 20 year anniversary passes, may we be reminded of its importance and take a moment to reflect on its relevance today.