9/11: September 11th is history, rather than memory for new generations of Americans

Chicago students connect to trauma of 9/11 through their own experiences

Karen Jordan Image
Wednesday, September 8, 2021
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CHICAGO (WLS) -- It used to be that 9/11 was a trauma shared by everyone. But now, as we approach the 20th anniversary, September 11th is history for a new generations of students, rather than a memory.

Cameron Pryor and Cari Butler are both seniors at Urban Prep Academy's Englewood campus. To learn about that day, they rely on class discussions and archival footage of the attacks on the Twin Towers, the Pentagon and in western Pennsylvania.

"Pretty sure almost 3,000 people, each and every one of them had families to go home to and now I'm pretty sure those families are always grieving," said Pryor.

Pryor and Butler said the more they learn about the events of 9/11, the more they look to their own experiences of trying to avoid violence in Chicago.

"It's not really hard to connect the trauma and pain from that time to our time," said Butler.

RELATED: 9/11 attacks: By the numbers

There is no national guideline that states are required to follow in terms of teaching about September 11th, so the decision is left up to individual teachers.

"My birthday is actually September 11, so in 2001, I turned 15," said Urban Prep history teacher Ronald Clark.

Clark personalizes the day for his students while also seeking to analyze what happened.

"Nothing surprises them, so when you're speaking to kids, you have to be honest with them and let them know what happened, when it happened, why it happened, what were the ramifications that followed," said Clark.

The lesson plan that may change with each year keeps the same goal of having students of creating their own perspectives.

"When you live life, appreciate it more. You never know what may happen in the next day or so. It's not guaranteed that you'll wake up every single day," said Pryor.

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