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“There are still souls of heroes saying please don’t forget us,” wrote Buckner Elementary School fifth-grader Ben Leaton.
“We thought all hope was lost and we still raised our flag,” Leaton’s classmate, Nic Moore, wrote.
Those are just two of the powerful statements written by Buckner Elementary students in China Fleischer’s class, when asked to reflect on the images of Sept. 11, 2001. Most of the students in the class were only 3 or 4 years old when the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers were attacked by terrorists seven years ago. Despite their young age, these students shared very deep thoughts on the subject.
“What’s a word we can say when people are wearing the flag and are proud of their country?” Fleischer asked the class.
“Patriotic,” the class responded in unison.
Students brought in various items that represented America and Sept. 11 to share with their peers. Dakota Baze shared a commemorative silver $20 bill that he says his grandfather bought for him.
“Since it was on 9-11 they made it a $20 bill,” he said, “because when you add nine and 11 it equals 20.”
Armed with descriptive language and their writer’s notebooks, Fleischer asked her students to take a picture walk around the room, pausing to reflect on the images ingrained in the minds of so many Americans – images that depict firefighters raising the flag at Ground Zero, smoke cascading out of the Twin Towers and erasing the sky, an eagle crying.
The images have become representations of a terrorist attack that affected many citizens of the United States, even those who were small children at the time.
Fleischer asked the students to silently look at the pictures and think about what they saw. She shared her own words, describing a picture of spotlights at Ground Zero, “Lights shine tall and bright where the Twin Towers once stood.” When describing a picture of an eagle crying, Allie McKinney wrote, “Big, bold, sparkling tears slide down his face with great sadness.”
Fleischer will compile the writing of the class into a book.
“That’s why we are doing this activity, so we don’t forget,” she told the class.
After working on their individual pieces, the students shared what they considered to be their most powerful line with the class.
“We’ve also become a better America today,” Lilly Prohaskoa shared with her classmates. “So who are we and who are we not, that is the question we need to answer.”