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Students born after 9/11 say this anniversary feels different

Published: Sep. 10, 2021 at 6:34 PM CDT
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KRONENWETTER, Wis. (WSAW) - This anniversary of the 9/11 attacks feels different, at least that is what some students at Northland Lutheran High School are saying. Not only is it 20 years since the largest attack on U.S. soil, but it is the first time there are no longer American troops in Afghanistan.

All of the students currently in grade school were not alive for that day, but they have grown up in a world impacted by it. As juniors at NLHS discussed the historical event, the words “chilling” and “goosebumps” were common descriptors of the reactions students felt listening to people who remember that day, seeing photos and videos, or reading about the event that changed American history.

“I teach history that is so much more than dates and places, that history is really our life story,” teacher Debbie Price said.

She tries to provide a wide variety of perspectives about the events that day, from people inside the towers to the people on the ground running or helping, to impacts felt in Central Wisconsin that day and the days to follow.

“To picture the gas station by Culvers that had lines going every which way because people were in a panic,” she explained. “And the church services that happened that night that gave people comfort and peace.”

She tries to relate it back to their lives today too.

“We talked about recent graduates who have just joined the military and the fact that if they were at that time, they would go off to war,” she said.

These students have grown up slowly learning about that day. Many of the students who spoke with NewsChannel 7 said middle school was when they really began to start learning about it and understanding what happened.

Josie Russ said she first remembers learning about it in a children’s book from the perspective of people inside the Twin Towers.

“I read it and I immediately got like goosebumps, I was like, ‘oh wow, this actually happened to people.”

Others began learning about it through lessons and documentaries on the anniversary.

“Just watching it, I couldn’t help but think about all of the people that would have been on the other side of the glass,” Faith Heyroth said about the people in the World Trade Center watching the planes fly into them.

Bree Kaehn said the events really hit her 10 years ago when Osama Bin Laden was captured.

“I have, like, this very vivid memory of my parents watching the news and the little high camera that they had watching the troops like go into the building and like capturing them,” she described.

With American troops pulled out of Afghanistan, they all said it feels different, uneasy actually.

“Now it’s happening during our time,” Heyroth stated. “Like, before we didn’t really have much impact on it, where now it will impact us and our future.”

“I feel like it’s a little scary,” Kaehn admitted as other students nodded in agreement, “because now that the troops are out, the Taliban has taken over Afghanistan again, like all of it. And I think it’s just terrifying to think of what could happen.”

Price said she wants students to know they can turn to their faith, but also the importance of understanding history to move forward into the future.

“This wasn’t the first time that something horrific may happen, but when something does happen, what is our reaction going to be and how can we help others through difficult situations,” she urged.

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