9/11: One generation's memories, another generation's history lesson

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HAZARD, Ky. (WYMT) -- A once current event is now considered a historical one for students learning about it in school.

Sixteen years ago this week, America changed forever and with each year, more and more students are learning about September 11th. Since most current students were not yet alive when it happened, it makes teaching them about 9/11 a unique task for the teachers who remember it.

"It's hard to explain living through an event and then trying to teach them your own perspective. They usually have a lot of questions about where you were and what you were doing, so we always try to tell those stories, and they ask a lot of questions," said Derek Allen, a social studies teacher at Hazard Middle School in Hazard, Kentucky.

Allen said he was a freshman in high school on September 11, 2001, and remembers being in science class and watching the news.

"We just kind of stopped class for a moment there and we were watching the TV," Allen said. "The most vivid memory I have was watching on live television that second plane hit."

Using his own memories, now Allen is teaching his middle school students about 9/11.

"They've grown-up in a world where terrorism, the word terrorism is used commonly and we did not," said Allen.

Allen said he hopes his students grasp how America changed on that Tuesday, September morning.

"Any day you can walk into the classroom and it can just be like a normal Monday morning like today, and something like this happens, it's just, you don't know when something like this is going to happen and when it does, it's totally different," said Sawyer Patrick, a seventh grader at Hazard Middle School.

It's the sense of community Allen said Americans felt immediately following the attacks, he wishes to share most with his students.

"The sense of unity that we can have as Americans when there's times that we can come together and put all kinds of other things aside and just be there for each other and be Americans," said Allen.

Allen said the most common question students ask him is why September 11th happened.

Read the original version of this article at wymt.com.

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