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The day that changed America


Hook said that all the teachers in his school were called to the library, where they were told of what had happened the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. When his teacher returned to the classroom, she turned on the television, sat down in her chair and wept.

Hook shared the experience with students in his American Studies classes, the majority of whom were not yet born on that day, to give them some perspective on how the nation reacted to the terrorism perpetrated against the United States.

Students began the lesson by reading and reacting to a poem entitled, “The Names,” by Billy Collins that eloquently provided the name of a person killed on 9/11 for each letter of the alphabet, but concluded with the assertion that there was not enough space on the page to list them all.

Students then watched actual news footage of the moment when the second plane hit the second tower before participating in a silent gallery walk, looking at iconic photos and quotes from 9/11 and writing down their impressions, questions, feelings, etc. After, Hook pulled the class together for a discussion and to answer any questions they had about the images they had seen. One student asked a simple but incredibly impactful question.

“Why did they do it?” asked one student, to which Hook replied that there wasn’t a simple or quick answer, but provided a synopsis of the events that led up to the attacks.

Students watched a video of President George Bush addressing the nation in the days that followed 9/11 and heard of the return to patriotism that swept the country. Hook’s primary objective for his students was to impart to them the knowledge that after 9/11, America and American government was changed forever.

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