9-11 not a big part of school curriculum yet

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Students do recall discussing in class

By Todd Martin

Things have certainly changed.

The world is definitely a different place.

But do we continue to learn, 10 years after the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001?

Students and teachers, no doubt, took time to discuss the matter in school this week. Maybe it was a small part of a lesson, maybe it was a whole class, but the events of that day do not appear to have worked their way into the fabric of U.S. and world history classes like D-day or the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

The topic comes up around the anniversary, probably even more this year with it being a landmark timeframe, but why isn't it built in, talked about year around?

"It's been ten years, and every year that goes by our country slips back into a complacency that 'they'll never touch our country again," Collins ROTC instructor Lt. Col. (Ret.) Keith Gramig said. "It's important that these kids know what happened. You have to remember, they were five or six years old. They do remember, and it's important that they share it with their kids.

"That day changed so much about what we do."

Only in second grade at the time, Collins senior Gatlin Miller, 17, recalled being stopped in the middle of his spelling test at Southside Elementary.

"I don't think we could register the impact then," he said. "I'm not in a history class this year, but we talked about it last year in Mr. [Phil] Bell's class. It wasn't a deep discussion, but we went over our understanding of the events."

Collins junior Daniel Halstern, 16, said he remembers the classroom TV being turned on, but an announcement shortly after had teachers turn them off at Simpsonville Elementary.

"I saw the planes crash in, and I guess I just didn't really understand," he said. "My mom tried to explain it later, but I think I didn't really get it then."

Halstern said during an eighth-grade class, three years ago, class members spent the whole day talking about the events.

"We talked about who did it and how it changed our world," he said.

Gramig has taken this week to discuss the events of that day and the changes that occurred with sophomore and junior students in his ROTC classes.

Without forewarning of the topic, Gramig said he presented a timeline for his students, starting with 8:46 a.m. and ending at 5:20 p.m.

"Some of them recognized 8:46 as the time the first tower was hit," he said. "They didn't know 5:20, when the third building went down, but I was pretty impressed."

Gramig said he tries to foster an open discussion in his class, using videos from the History.com.

Miller and Halstern said they believe it should be part of the normal curriculum at school, not just a special event or something around the anniversary, and maybe it's becoming that.

"It's not exactly like Pearl Harbor because that was a based that was attacked," Miller said. "But that [Sept. 11] was another day that Americans joined together to fight for our country. It brought Americans closer together. People don't talk about it as much now, because it happened a while ago, but it impacted all of us heavily."

Added Halstern: "I remember the day after it happened, my dad went out and got an American flag and started flying it. And we still fly it today. That's just one small change, but I think that's a change you see all over the country."

Gramig said he knows other teachers are talking about the day and changes since, but he too believes it should be a bigger part of the nation's curriculum.

"It should be incorporated the same way that Veteran's Day and Memorial Day are remembered," he said. "Generations and we share things change, but I hope these kids continue to share their thoughts and beliefs. If it gets away from us, we lose a lot."