I never really understood the significance of knowing exactly where you were on a fateful day in American history. Not until September 11, 2001.
I was in my living room, feeding breakfast to my baby, 9-month-old Ben, watching the Today Show with Katie Couric and Matt Lauer. I remember the “breaking news” that an airplane had flown into one of the World Trade Center twin towers. What a horrible accident! I remember thinking how odd it was, since it was obviously a beautiful morning with clear blue skies. As I sat there listening to Katie report what they knew, I can remember watching the live camera shot behind her, as the 2nd plane hit the 2nd tower. I (and everyone else watching in real time) knew it before Katie did. I began to cry with the sudden realization that this was no accident; those planes crashed purposefully that day. This was obviously a premeditated attack on America.
My husband (a federal government employee) was at a school in the federal building in Dallas, TX. As the news came across the television of additional planes heading for the Pentagon and the White House, I recall fear striking me, not knowing how many of these hijacked planes were in the air or where else they were headed. Relief soon came when my husband called to say they had been safely evacuated to a local hotel, and he would be renting a car to drive the 15 hours home as soon as possible.
For days and days I sat glued to the television, praying and hoping that survivors would be found, that the people responsible for this would be discovered. I was very proud of President Bush and Rudy Guiliani, the mayor of NYC. Our country had come together in unity, for the common good. The heroic tales of NYC’s finest, along with ordinary citizens, were inspirational and heartwarming. We were all patriotic in 2001, and proud to be Americans. Very proud.
Ten years later, I find myself telling Ben my “where were you?” story. It’s difficult to help him understand that feeling of pride in your country, in the heroes of 9/11, and the heroes of our armed forces who have bravely fought the “war on terror” for the years since the Twin Towers fell. Patriotism is something sorely lacking in our country today. How do you instill that in a child? I want him to get it, to feel it. I want him to understand the providential blessing of being an American.
This week, we will take a break from our usual curriculum and focus on Patriot Day. We will learn more about the events of 9/11, our armed forces, our country’s symbols and anthems. Most of all, we will learn about how the founding of the United States of America was a part of God’s providence and what our responsibility is as a citizen of this great country, and as children of God.
Feel free to join us. I hope you will take time to help your children understand the significance of these events. As they grow older, I have no doubt they will hear the question, “Where were you when the twin towers fell?”
Here are some suggestions for unit studies and books you can use this week:
September 11, 2001 Project Pack from In the Hands of a Child
Fireboat Unit Study from Homeschool Share
September 11 Theme Unit from edhelper.com
Patriot Day Writing and Craft from Teacher Pay Teacher
Unit Study Adventures Patriotic Holidays (while this unit study does not address Patriot Day, it does spend some time on Flag Day, with info about the American Flag and Veteran’s Day, with info about the Armed Forces).
Fireboat by Maira Kalman
The Man Who Walked Between the Towers by Mordicai Gerstein
September Roses by Jeanette Winter
On That Day: A Book of Hope for Children by Andrea Patel
The Little Chapel That Stood by A. B. Curtiss
The Day America Cried by Dr. Teri Schwartz
America Is Under Attack: September 11, 2001: The Day the Towers Fell by Don Brown
September 11 by Mary Englar
The Day Our World Changed: Children’s Art of 9/11 by Robin Goodman
The Survivor Tree: Inspired by a True Story by Cheryl Somers Aubin
Hero Dogs: Courageous Canines in Action by Donna M. Jackson
September 11, 2001: Then and Now by Peter Benoit
Saved by the Boats: The Heroic Sea Evacuation of September 11 by Julie Gassman
Towers Falling by Jewell Parker Rhodes
Eleven by Tom Rogers
What Were the Twin Towers by Jim O’Connor
- Learn the Pledge of Allegiance
- Learn the words to the National Anthem
- Fly an American flag at half-staff–learn why that is significant
- Write thank you letters, bake a treat, and hand-deliver them to your local fire department
- Volunteer in some way
- Send a care package to a friend or family member serving our country overseas
How will you teach your children to remember the events of September 11, 2001?