Fourth-graders Learn About 9/11

Fourth-grader Mario Masegosa sees an image of the Twin Towers after the Sept. 11, 2001 attack

Shocked by an image on the projector screen in front of him, Godfrey Elementary School fourth-grader Mario Masegosa covered his face with his hands. He was looking at the crumbling Twin Towers on September 11, 2001.

Around him, classmates gasped and looked on in concern. Many were learning for the first time about the series of events that unfolded beginning at 8:45 a.m. on that sunny, blue-skied morning 15 years ago, several years before they were born.

Every year, teacher Jon Hovingh teaches students about Sept. 11, 2001, marking the terrorist event’s anniversary
Every year, teacher Jon Hovingh teaches students about Sept. 11, 2001, marking the terrorist event’s anniversary

Teacher Jon Hovingh gives the history lesson annually, telling students about how the day unfolded, the heroes that emerged and why it’s important not to forget.

“I try not to make it very scary, but I think it’s important that you guys at least know a little about this day,” Hovingh told his class.

Every year that goes by, fewer students know about 9/11, he said. He gives an overview of what happened and encourages students to ask their parents for more details.

Students wrote a timeline of events and a list of heroes in “Remembering 9/11” booklets, while Hovingh explained how the attack is etched in fine detail in the memories of many. Even his own.

Hovingh was teaching at Godfrey Elementary when a secretary told him a plane had hit one of the Twin Towers in New York City. Like many, his initial reaction was that it must be an accident. Then, when the second tower and the Pentagon were hit, he realized the enormity of the situation.

On September 11, 2001, 19 militants associated with the Islamic extremist group al-Qaeda hijacked four airliners and carried out suicide attacks against targets in the United States. Two of the planes were flown into the towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, a third plane hit the Pentagon just outside Washington, D.C., and the fourth plane crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. Often referred to as 9/11, the attacks resulted in extensive death and destruction, triggering major U.S. initiatives to combat terrorism and defining the presidency of George W. Bush. Over 3,000 peoplewere killed during the attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C., including more than 400 police officers and firefighters.

Source: History Channel

Last week, he showed students photos of the aftermath: people walking away from the Twin Towers; abandoned cars covered in dust and ash and, finally, firefighters raising a flag at the former site of the towers, dubbed Ground Zero.

“Many people died that day, but a lot of people were saved,” said fourth-grader Jaylynn Madison.

Thousands of stories are told today recalling how citizens helped each other, were saved and lost their lives. But many stories will forever remain unknown, Hovingh told students.

“It’s a day in our country we want to remember,” he said. “We don’t want to forget.”

CONNECT

Learn about the 9/11 attacks on the U.S.

Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers and On-the-Town Magazine. She has been covering the many exciting facets of K-12 public education for School News Network since 2013. Read Erin's full bio

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