A 9/11 Message to Elementary Students, Revisited

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courtesy of Business Insider 


I received an email recently from an elementary Principal (named Robin) in New York State that reminded me that that the fateful date of 9/11 is right around the corner. It has been 16 years since the events on that New York City sunny morning changed forever how we view America and our safety and security. Robin had discovered a post that I had written regarding the tenth anniversary of 9/11 when I was struggling to find the right words to say to my students about that tragic day. She will be utilizing the words from the post in her own 9/11 ceremony tomorrow. 


Although we have escaped a repeat of the horrors of 9/11, there have been numerous examples of terrorism throughout the world since then, not to mention the threat of North Korea and plenty of natural disasters.  As I re-read the words from my post however, I’m reminded that we have also encountered many examples of selfless care throughout our country and world that takes the edge off a bit. 


Here are my thoughts from exactly six years ago:


Like many of you, my school, Harold Martin Elementary, has direct connections to 9/11. One of our teacher’s sons worked for a New Hampshire Senator and was actually in the White House at 8:46 AM that day. Another teacher’s husband was scheduled to fly American Airlines Flight 11, the first plane to hit the World Trade Center, but at the last moment traded with a good friend. Many of our current students had relatives who were among the 3,000 who perished. This week I received an email from a parent who is currently a pilot and will have to fly on 9/11/11. His son is terrified that he won’t see his Dad again.

It is against this backdrop that I wrote this brief piece trying to grasp the positive from what is a scary, confusing, and surreal period in our history, especially for the students at Harold Martin who were not alive when the decade old events occurred. It was not read to the students but given to parents this past week in our newsletter for families to use in any way they would like:

This Sunday, September 11, we will commemorate the events that happened 10 years ago on September 11, 2001. None of our Harold Martin School students were even born 10 years ago but many of your older brothers and sisters as well as your parents remember that day quite well. It was a scary and sad time for all of us as many people died in New York City, Virginia, and Pennsylvania that morning due to terrible choices made by a number of people who strongly disagreed with our country’s leaders and what the United States stands for.

But instead of focusing on this tragic event, we should consider the lessons we learned from 9/11:

Immediately after these events 10 years ago, good people around the world showed their kindness and love for each other by reaching out and helping save lives and support families who were hurt by this event. Fire fighters and police officers in particular showed great courage in risking their own lives to save others. Americans put aside their differences by coming together and showing the power of patriotism by reaching deep into their souls and finding the strength to love and help their neighbor no matter the color of their skin, their religious background, or how much money they had. It didn’t matter. All that mattered was that we were all Americans and we would stick together. Soldiers sacrificed their time and lives to fight against those who might harm us and a whole country started taking our own safety more seriously.

So, again what are the lessons? We must show each other kindness and love. We must have the courage to do the right thing and protect and defend each other. We have to put aside differences and care for each other equally which sometimes means sacrifice.

I hope you will keep these thoughts in your mind as you hear more about 9/11 this weekend. If you ever have questions please feel free to ask your parents, your teachers, or myself. We all feel very blessed to have you as our students.

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