Patriot Day observed

Photo by Shari Harris
Mrs. Meizler’s students moved to the front of the room to view the videos of the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
By Shari Harris,

  Mrs. Meizler’s fifth grade class at Licking Elementary School reviewed the events that led to the declaration of Patriot Day on Wednesday, Sept. 11. The events of Sept. 11, 2001, eighteen years ago, and before any of the students in Meizler’s class were even born, were discussed and viewed in video. 
  Most readers remember 9-11, can tell you what happened, where they were, how they felt and what they did that day. But how many consider what has happened since that time, as a result of that day? Mrs. Meizler included in her discussion ways that 9-11 changed our world and made a new reality for these students, compared to the world in which prior generations were raised.
  Patriot Day was established to “remember and honor all the innocent people who died,” one student reported. Meizler pointed out that the deaths continue even now, eighteen years later, due to the toxins inhaled by the heroes who ran toward the disaster or worked for days and weeks at ground zero, searching desperately for survivors.
  The world changed in a matter of hours, as most of the country watched on TV as the second plane crashed, as smoke billowed from the Pentagon, as the towers collapsed in great clouds of ash. New agencies were established – the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) are two notable examples. The Patriot Act was enacted, allowing our government extended abilities to investigate for terrorism.
  Several generations ago, at the height of the Cold War, school children learned to duck and cover in case of nuclear attack, but the fear of attack on U.S. soil largely ceased in the 1970’s. The possibility of an attack in the U.S. with a large loss of lives became a reality that September day, and it shattered the sense of security established over the previous decades.
  The students in Meizler’s class expect metal detectors at government buildings. Leaving hours early to catch a flight is expected. Knowing what to pack in your suitcase, what to carry on board, and what to leave at home isn’t unusual. A true feeling of safety is a little more difficult in their world.
  The events of 9-11 aren’t completely to blame. The Federal Building bombing in Oklahoma City, the numerous school shootings, and mass shootings everywhere from movie theaters to Walmart have altered their reality. School resource officers are becoming commonplace, as much to help with student behaviors as to protect the students from the outside world. Listening to the children bring up the El Paso mass shooting, the Ohio mass shooting and Sandy Hook is disturbing, but understandable. The current events of their world seem so much more relevant to their very survival than before 9-11.  Regardless, Mrs. Meizler allowed and encouraged their input, and likewise, the students were interested to hear how it felt to witness the events of 9-11 in real time. The interaction between the generations, the exchange and understanding of each other’s viewpoint; this learning is necessary to make a stronger and safer nation for all of us.



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