TERRE HAUTE —
After the 9/11 tragedy, many saw a spirit of unity emerging across the country as Americans pulled together and helped each other during a dark time in U.S. history.
But it shouldn’t take a national disaster to bring out the best in people, say students in Teresa Stuckey’s fifth-grade class at Consolidated Elementary.
“We shouldn’t wait until something bad happens to be kind-hearted and nice and help people,” said fifth-grader Natalie Mauk.
That’s one of the theme’s Stuckey tried to emphasize as the class spent time studying 9/11 this week.
The children were age 1 — or younger — when the attacks occurred, Stuckey said. “We talked about what happened, relating it to bullying and how terrorists are big bullies,” she said. Terrorists “attempted to bully us into doing what they wanted us to do.”
She also emphasized the idea that “sometimes out of bad things, something good happens.” She used a quote from Winston Churchill: “We shall draw from the heart of suffering itself the means of inspiration and survival.”
As part of their learning activities, students participated in the 9/11 National Day of Service and Remembrance. The national goal this year is the “single largest expression of charitable service in American history.”
On Friday, the students did a service project on school grounds, picking up trash, sweeping sidewalks and pulling weeds.
They also wrote letters and are collecting items for women in the military in cooperation with the Daughters of the American Revolution. The items will be sent overseas as part of care packages.
The children also have made “thank you” posters, cards and signs that Stuckey planned to deliver to the Sugar Creek Fire Department.
Student Brody Blevins described what he learned about 9/11. “A lot of firefighters and people lost their lives because of it,” he said. “It was a major disaster and I hope it never happens again.”
The day of service is a way to pay tribute to the victims of 9/11. “We’re trying to do our part and help,” Blevins said during a break from sweeping in front of the school.
Fifth-grader Alley Little had a good grasp of what happened during the terrorist attacks, from the hijacked planes to the devastation of the Twin Towers and Pentagon. She understood with Flight 93, the plane was headed to Washington, D.C, but “passengers got in the pilot’s room and they got control of it and they landed in a field.”
When students studied about the planes hitting the Twin Towers, “I was thinking, why were they doing that? Why did they want to?” Little said.
Stuckey explained to them that “in their country, they were rewarded. They had honor. They were glad to do that,” Little said.
Little also understands the good that resulted from 9/11. Everyone wanted to help those hurt by the terrorist attacks, she said.
Student John McClain showed a poster he helped make that showed a big pile of rubble that had been the Twin Towers as well as ambulance workers and firefighters responding. On it was written, “Thank you EMTs.”
While many bad things happened on 9/11, McClain also knows it drew people together. “It helped everybody get together and work together no matter what color their skin was or what type of language they talked,” he said.
Another poster said, “The Twins shall not be forgotten,” and it showed a picture of a heart drawn around the Twin Towers. Students wrote: “Thank you for saving lives, firefighters and EMTs.”
Sue Loughlin can be reached at (812) 231-4235 or firstname.lastname@example.org.