Remembering to ‘Never Forget:’ educating kids who are too young to remember 9/11


It’s been 11 years since the nation watched in horror as a terror attack jolted Americans, old and young, into a stark and dismal new reality.

After September 11, 2001, we quickly adopted the mantra, “Never Forget,” but for thousands of young Americans born after or shortly before the attack, it’s safe to say they never knew – and some still don’t.

When asked about the attack, 12-year-old Helen Medina of South Boston said, “I don’t even know what 9/11 is,” but after hearing a few details, she made the connection: “Wait, is it when the Twin Towers fell? Osama bin Laden?”

Medina said said she knew thousands of people were killed, and that it was an act of terrorism.

“I was terrified. It was scary. I felt so bad for the people who were in there.”

However, she wasn’t recalling a lesson from the black board.

“I saw it on the internet… I saw it recently when I was 11. I saw it on YouTube,” she said.

That’s because Bay State public schools don’t include 9/11 in school curricula until the tenth grade, according to Robert Chisholm, director of social sciences for Boston Public Schools.

“Generally it is a topic of study primarily in the upper grades. State standards includes Sept. 11 as a U.S. History II course. In the lower grades it is not explicitly part of the curriculum,” he said.

Some education experts and Sept. 11 organizations believe, however, that kids who are too young to have experienced the attack should be more exposed to information about it.

“It’s pathetic what we do in terms of citizenship preparation,” said Patrick McQuillan, an associate professor at Boston College’s Lynch School of Education. “They’re getting very little exposure to issues linked to social studies and history, especially in the elementary grades.”

John Curtis, vice president of the Massachusetts 9/11 Fund board of directors, said that whether it’s in school, or outside the classroom, education is key if we want to ensure a future that truly never forgets.

“In my mind it wasn’t a tragedy. It was an attack, and it is important for future generations to recognize that these people attacked our homeland. I believe their goal was to kill Americans,” Curtis said. “It could happen again, and we need to understand that. We need to make sure that we remember, and stay alert and aware so we don’t get lackadaisical.”

Curtis said the Massachusetts 9/11 Fund is working toward putting together an educational program to keep youth informed.

“The goal is to try to make sure that not only young people today, but coming generations have an appreciation. Looking at the past ten years, the first thing we were focused on was trying to help family members… Now we’ve reached a point where we need to do something about education,” he said.

Meanwhile, some parents are taking the initiative.

Standing outside a South Boston elementary school, Thomas Murphy held his 8-year-old daughter Salma’s hand as she told Metro what she knew about 9/11.

“We talked about it, remember?” he said – and she did: “Planes crashed into big buildings. Bin Laden did it,” she said.

“And who was he?” Murphy asked.

“A terrorist,” his daughter replied.


New statue of Penn State's Paterno set for…

By David DeKokHARRISBURG, Pennsylvania (Reuters) - Fundraising for a new statue depicting Joe Paterno "as the man he was and not Joe the football coach"…


Future Boston Alliance invites you to #RidetheLine, support…

#RidetheLine aims to show the city, the nation, and the globe our creative impact as Boston citizens.


(Update) Body of missing BU grad Eric Munsell…

The dead man pulled from the water at Boston's Long Wharf Wednesday afternoon was that of missing 24-year-old Boston University alumnus Eric Munsell, Boston Police said today.


On newly released tape, 'Squeaky' Fromme says was…

Manson Family member Squeaky Fromme told a mental health examiner in newly released interview the "X" she carved in her forehead was meant to separate her from "the system."


Tribeca: 'Goodbye to All That' star Paul Schneider…

Paul Schneider talks about his new film "Goodbye to All That," not acting too much and how he'd rather indulge in simple pleasures than play the scene.

The Word

Taylor Swift battles paparazzi daily at Tribeca penthouse

We're entranced by these photos of poor Taylor Swift leaving her Tribeca apartment.


Tribeca: Nikki Reed on going funny for a…

"Intramural" star Nikki Reed talks about being the straight person in a broad comedy, spending time in Austin and how "Thirteen" was a "miracle."


'Becoming Cuba' at Huntington is a bit short…

Playwright Melinda Lopez freely lampoons the English language for its lack of passion in her latest work, “Becoming Cuba.” Ironically, the Huntington Theatre Company’s playwright-in-residence…


2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April 24…

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April 24 version


5 infamous pitcher ejections for cheating

Never fear Yankees fans, Michael Pineda is far from the first MLB pitcher to be thrown out of a game for cheating.


Patriot’s schedule comes up fair

Those looking for built-in excuses for the Patriots 2014-2015 season will have to look elsewhere, because their schedule came up fair. For the fourth straight…


Nava demoted, Victorino return imminent

  Red Sox outfielder Daniel Nava, who was batting a team-low .149/.240/.269, was demoted to Triple-A Pawtucket on Wednesday. "His struggles at the plate, I…


New study: Inside the wage gap between boys…

According to a new study, there's a wage gap between boys and girls, with boys earning more allowance for less chores.


From Apple TV to Fire TV, big changes…

Apple is set to launch a new generation of it's Apple TV, which grossed over $1 billion in 2013. But competition from Amazon and Google looms.


Katy Perry releases a new Claire’s collection

Katy Perry expands her empire by releasing an accessories collection at Claire's.


MAC & Proenza Schouler collection unveiled

MAC Cosmetics is releasing a new collection with Proenza Schouler.