This 12-minute video explores the September 11 terrorist attacks, which occurred 20 years ago, before any of today’s K-12 students were born. How can we examine the events of that day and the aftermath as historians would? This activity asks students to examine primary sources, pose questions for investigation and gather additional narratives from this time period.
9/11 Heroes: Surviving the Biggest Attack on U.S. Soil
First responders who survived 9/11 don’t want the day to be forgotten.
Seconds after the World Trade Center towers were attacked on Sept. 11, 2001, by terrorists flying two hijacked planes, New York City mounted the largest rescue effort in its history. More than 2,000 emergency responders were dispatched to lower Manhattan.
As the twin towers smoldered, rescue workers rushed in, trying to help the more than 16,000 people still inside. New York City police officers Bill Beaury and Mark DeMarco entered the North Tower with their team and began to climb the stairs.
“We’re running into other people,” Officer DeMarco told Retro Report for this new documentary video. “I said – Just follow the wall down. When you get outside, try not to panic, I said. But run.”
Firefighters and police officers worked frantically to evacuate the towers, but within minutes the lights went out, the building went dark and ceiling panels began to fall, Officer Beaury told us. It was clear that the tower was coming down.
“It sounded like a freight train going by,” Officer DeMarco said.
The shock of the collapse set in immediately. Seeing the towers come down in a matter of seconds, Officer DeMarco said, “was just mind-boggling.”
For these men and many other emergency workers, the trauma of that day lingers in many ways: in physical ailments from breathing toxic dust, in grief for more than 400 colleagues who were killed that day, and in feelings of guilt for having survived.
“What I always try to tell people about that day is that there were so many heroes,” NYPD officer Dan McNally told us.
Students will learn about Sept. 11, 2001, and specifically about the experience of some of the more than 2,000 New York City emergency workers who sped toward lower Manhattan.
- Examine the 9/11 attacks from multiple perspectives using a variety of primary sources.
- Determine the advantages and disadvantages of relying on primary sources in conducting historical research.
- Conduct an interview and create their own primary source material related to the 9/11 attacks.
- What are primary sources and how do they contribute to one’s understanding of historical events?
- What can the experiences of first responders and others who witnessed the 9/11 terrorist attacks tell us about the event from an historical perspective?
- How can primary source materials like narratives, video, audio, and artifacts contribute to our understanding of the 9/11 attacks and aftermath?
- Common Core State Standards
- CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.9-10.1:Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, attending to such features as the date and origin of the information.
- CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.9-10.2:Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text.
- CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.9-10.6:Compare the point of view of two or more authors for how they treat the same or similar topics, including which details they include and emphasize in their respective accounts.
- CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.9-10.9:Compare and contrast treatments of the same topic in several primary and secondary sources.
- National Council for the Social Studies C3 Framework
- D2.His.10.9-12.Detect possible limitations in various kinds of historical evidence and differing secondary interpretations.
- D2.His.16.9-12.Integrate evidence from multiple relevant historical sources and interpretations into a reasoned argument about the past.
- D2.His.12.9-12.Use questions generated about multiple historical sources to pursue further inquiry and investigate additional sources.
- D2.His.1.9-12.Evaluate how historical events and developments were shaped by unique circumstances of time and place as well as broader historical contexts.
- D1.4.9-12.Explain how supporting questions contribute to an inquiry and how, through engaging source work, new compelling and supporting questions emerge.
- D1.2.9-12. Explain points of agreement and disagreement experts have about interpretations and applications of disciplinary concepts and ideas associated with a compelling question.
- AP U.S. History
- Period 9: 1980-Present
Seconds after the World Trade Center towers and Pentagon were attacked on Sept. 11, 2001, officials in New York and Washington mounted the largest rescue effort in history. The American public responded to the terrorist attacks with shock, grief and an outpouring of support. In this lesson, students will learn about the impact of the attacks by examining film, political cartoons, music and sports sources, and print media.
- Analyze the impact of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, through different media sources.
- Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources.
- Draw evidence from informational texts to support analysis, reflection and research.
- What happened on Sept. 11, 2001?
- How did Americans cope after the attacks? What were some of the public means of grieving and memorializing the victims?
- Transcript for “9/11 Heroes: Surviving the Biggest Attack on U.S. Soil” (Retro Report)
- Political Cartoons Slide Deck
- Music examples: (Students will need headphones)
- Sports examples: (Students will need headphones)
- Video: Mike Piazza’s emotional post-9/11 home run (MLB Vault, YouTube)
- Video: Remembering President Bush’s First Pitch at Yankee Stadium After 9/11 (Yankees Avenue, YouTube)
- Print media examples:
- Just for Being Americans… | The Miami Herald, Dave Barry (Sept. 13, 2001)
- We’ll Go Forward From This Moment | Tampa Bay Times, Leonard Pitts Jr. (Sept. 11, 2011; reprinting of a column from the Miami Herald written on Sept. 11, 2001)
- 98: Jack Buck’s tribute to America | ESPN, Rick Weinberg (May 31, 2004)
- Optional video: Jack Buck reads a moving speech and poem in St. Louis | MLB (Sept. 17, 2001)
- Optional materials: Provide markers, scissors and copies of print articles for blackout poem creation.
- D1.4.6-8. Explain how the relationship between supporting questions and compelling questions is mutually reinforcing.
- D1.4.9-12. Explain how supporting questions contribute to an inquiry and how, through engaging source work, new compelling and supporting questions emerge.
- D2.Civ.5.9-12. Evaluate citizens’ and institutions’ effectiveness in addressing social and political problems at the local, state, tribal, national, and/or international level.
- D2.Civ.7.6-8. Apply civic virtues and democratic principles in school and community settings.
- D2.Civ.10.6-8. Explain the relevance of personal interests and perspectives, civic virtues, and democratic principles when people address issues and problems in government and civil society.
- D2.Civ.10.9-12. Analyze the impact and the appropriate roles of personal interests and perspectives on the application of civic virtues, democratic principles, constitutional rights, and human rights.
- D2.Civ.13.6-8. Analyze the purposes, implementation, and consequences of public policies in multiple settings.
- D2.Civ.13.9-12. Evaluate public policies in terms of intended and unintended outcomes, and related consequences.
- D2.Civ.14.6-8. Compare historical and contemporary means of changing societies, and promoting the common good.
- D2.Civ.14.9-12. Analyze historical, contemporary, and emerging means of changing societies, promoting the common good, and protecting rights.
- D2.His.1.9-12. Evaluate how historical events and developments were shaped by unique circumstances of time and place as well as broader historical contexts.
- D2.His.5.9-12. Analyze how historical contexts shaped and continue to shape people’s perspectives.
6-8th Grade: Literature
- RL.4: Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of a specific word choice on meaning and tone.
- RL.5: Analyze how a particular sentence, chapter, scene, or stanza fits into the overall structure of a text and contributes to the development of the theme, setting, or plot.
- RI.1: Cite several pieces of textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
- RI.4: Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including analogies or allusions to other texts.
- W.2: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content.
- W.5: With some guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on how well purpose and audience have been addressed
- W.9: Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
Speaking and Listening
- SL.1: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacherled) with diverse partners on grade 6-8 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly
Conventions of English
- L.5: Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.
9th-12th Grade: Literature
- RL.4: Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone (e.g., how the language evokes a sense of time and place; how it sets a formal or informal tone).
- RL.5: Analyze how an author’s choices concerning how to structure specific parts of a text (e.g. the choice of where to begin or end a story, the choice to provide a comedic or tragic resolution) contribute to its overall structure and meaning as well as its aesthetic impact.
- RI.4: Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone (e.g., how the language of a court opinion differs from that of a newspaper).
- W.2: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
- W.4: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
Speaking and Listening
- SL.1: Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 11–12 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
Conventions of English
- L.3: Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening