Students who are in high school today are barely old enough to remember the events of September 11th, 2001. Their knowledge comes from their parent’s account, teacher’s lessons, text readings and documentaries. And even some of these sources are removed from the events that occurred at ground zero. It was a day that forever shaped the future of America and yet our students, the future of America, have very limited knowledge of the day and as a result very limited understanding of its impact. The social studies department and administrative team in my school used September 11, 2014 as a day to change that for our students.
Students and staff alike had the opportunity to hear a first hand account of a 9/11 survivor. Mr. Joe Dittmar was in the second tower on the 110th floor when the first tower was struck. As the building was evacuated, he made it to the 75th floor just as the second plane crashed into the 78th floor. Mr. Dittmar’s story was engaging and eye opening. As he spoke, my students were silent and glued to every word he recounted. Simple decisions on that day saved his life while other seemingly insignificant decisions cost his friends their lives. I encourage you to watch him tell his story and experience the events of SEptember 11th in a new light. His experience will demonstrate the power of a primary source narrative as well as teach about the importance of decision making under pressure. This is a must view for any social studies teacher or class.