High school seniors reflect on a 9/11 they don't remember

September 11, 2017 07:22 PM

Today's high school seniors were just 1-year-old on September 11, 2001. They have no memory of the events and have lived their entire lives in a post 9/11 world.

A class of gifted students interested in law and government from all over the Capital Region met in the New York State Museum's 9/11 exhibit with the weekend's homework in hand.  The assignment: how did the events of 9/11 affect their lives?

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Behind a New York City firetruck destroyed on that day, sat a group who only have experienced 9/11 in history class and through their parents' stories.

For Emily Newell, this made it real.

"I never really knew the gravity of the events until today. I had an understanding, but being faced with a fire truck that was demolished and pieces from rescuers, it was overpowering," she admitted.

WEB EXTRA: Emily Newell describes how the 9/11 exhibit put everything into context

"A lot of essays used to be about what class they were in high school or junior high school or elementary school," explained Rich Bader with the BOCES New Visions Law and Government Program.

Bader has been doing this project with students here for about 14 years. Now, his seniors were just 1-year-old when the attacks happened.

"They have lived in a post 9/11 world their entire lives, so it's more about their thinking and how they see it affecting the United States government," he explained.

The essays touched on racism against Muslims, the price of government surveillance, Guantanamo Bay and their protective parents.

The exhibit opened in 2002. Each anniversary shifts a little more from reminder, to history lesson.

"One of the things that makes exhibits like this so powerful is that it's not just something that people have read about, it's something that the vast majority of our visitors have experienced," noted Aaron Noble, senior historian.

"They teach you this from a young age, through elementary school we learned where our teachers were and what they went through, because it's important to learn about the horrors of yesterday so tomorrow can be better," acknowledged Emily.

Next year, a number of those students will likely not even have been born yet.


WNYT Staff

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