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The Coyote Caller

The Coyote Caller

The Coyote Caller

Photo Gallery: Soccer vs. Northwest, May 9, 2024
Photo Gallery: Soccer vs. Northwest, May 9, 2024
Scott Hoskins, Journalism Adviser/Photographer • Published May 13, 2024
Photo Gallery: Soccer vs. Northwest, May 9, 2024
Photo Gallery: Soccer vs. Northwest, May 9, 2024
Scott Hoskins, Journalism Adviser/Photographer • Published May 13, 2024
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Exam schedule posted
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Never forget: 22nd anniversary of 9/11

US National Park Service
September 11 attacks in New York City: View of the World Trade Center and the Statue of Liberty.

It seems that most Americans have a “where-were-you-when” experience. For the older generation, it was Dec. 7, 1941. Twenty-two years later it was Nov. 23, 1963, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Twenty-three years after that it was Jan. 28, 1986, when the space shuttle Challenger exploded.

For most people born in the 1980s or early 1990s, it is definitely 9/11.

On Sept. 11, 2001, I was teaching English II at Northeast High School. It was a normal morning in the fourth year of my teaching career.

Plumes of smoke billow from the World Trade Center towers in Lower Manhattan, New York City, after a Boeing 767 hits each tower during the September 11 attacks. (Flickr user Michael Foran)

Unknown to all of us at NEHS, the country’s worst terrorist attack was already underway before first period had barely gotten started. At 7:46 a.m., Clarksville time, the first plane, Flight 11, struck the World Trade Center’s North Tower. Seventy-six passengers, 11 crew members and five hijackers perished instantly.

I don’t remember exactly when the news began to spread throughout the school, but soon it did. Back in those days, we had small televisions, probably 19 inches, mounted in a corner of every classroom. Once we heard that something was happening, every teacher in the building turned on their televisions.

For the rest of the day, nothing was normal.

Aerial view of the Pentagon Building located in Washington, District of Columbia (DC), showing emergency crews responding to the destruction caused when a high-jacked commercial jetliner crashed into the southwest corner of the building, during the 9/11 terrorists attacks. (Wikimedia Commons, TSGT Cedric H. Rudisill, USAF)

A second hijacked plane hit the WTC’s South Tower at 8:03 a.m., before first period was over. Dead were 51 passengers, nine crew members and five hijackers.

Then we found out another plane, Flight 77, had struck the Pentagon at 8:37 a.m., killing 53 passengers, six crew members and five hijackers. Additionally, 125 civilian and military personnel in the Pentagon were killed.

The horror still wasn’t over, though. At 9:02 a.m., United Flight 11 crashed into a field outside of Shanksville, Pennsylvania, after the passengers took matters into their own hands and stormed the hijackers. Thirty-three passengers, seven crew members and four hijackers perished. No one knows where this plane was headed, but most people believe its target was either the United States Capitol Building or the White House.

Then, the Towers collapsed.

The South Tower collapsed at 8:59 a.m., followed by the North Tower at 9:28 a.m. Before second period was hardly over, 2,977 people had died.

  • 275 passengers, crew and terrorists aboard the planes
  • 125 Pentagon personnel
  • 1,402 WTC employees in Tower 1
  • 614 WTC employees in Tower 2
  • 343 firefighters and paramedics
  • 23 New York Police Department officers
  • 37 New Port Port Authority officers

We sat glued to the televisions all day. Needless to say, little teaching was done that day, but a whole lot of learning happened. Students learned, if they didn’t already know, that the world was not a friendly place, and that there were people out there who would kill them just for being Americans.

Naturally, being so close to Fort Campbell, and having so many students connected to the Army base, the fear that the U.S. was under attack was real. The rest of that day went by in a blur. The school system canceled school the next day, and all there was to do at home was watch the devastation. It was the most somber time as a nation I can remember in my life.

But students learned something else as well. They saw the U.S. come together like no other time in their lives, and probably never since. We live in such a fractured political society today that we may never see this level of unity again.

I think it’s important that we as educators make sure our students know the significance of this day. After all, 9/11 is as foreign to them as the Kennedy assassination is for me and even the space shuttle disaster is to people born in the late 80s or early 90s. I hope at least in history classes that teachers can pause in their scope and sequence to talk to students about this day.

I visited the site of the World Trade Center Memorial in 2021. Even twenty years later, one could feel the solemness and the weight of the place in history. The quietness of the place overwhelms visitors, and you’re almost afraid to talk too loudly out of respect for the dead.

Let’s make sure on this 22nd anniversary of 9/11 that our students never forget the significance of this day.

9/11 Memorial in New York City (CC0 Public Domain) (Petr Kratochvil)
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