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Students remember, learn about, 9/11

Leaders strive to educate youth about the attacks that changed a nation.

September 09, 2011|By Megan O'Neil, megan.oneil@latimes.com
  • The United States Marine Corps presented the colors at the beginning of the ceremony at Burbank High School, on the football field, on Friday, September 9, 2011. (Tim Berger/Staff Photographer)
The United States Marine Corps presented the colors at…

Stephanie Eskander has only vague memories of watching the events of Sept. 11, 2001, unfold on television.

“[Until] recently I did not know there were four attacks,” the 16-year-old Burbank High School student body vice president said. “As a kid, I only thought there were two. I didn’t know that both towers had fallen. I just remember seeing a lot of fire on the TV, and everyone was really depressed.”

Senior Cynthia Estrada, 17, didn’t grasp the significance of the terrorist attacks until she studied them years later as part of a class project.

“I do remember coming back from recess and having the principal give a PA announcement about it,” said Cynthia, who was in second grade at the time. “We did watch it on the TV, but since we were so young, we didn’t know really what we were watching.”

As a generation whose members have few, or no, recollections of 9/11 comes of age, it has fallen to parents, educators and civic leaders to convey the historical significance of the events. On Friday, schools throughout Burbank Unified marked the 10th anniversary of the event with different forms of remembrance, including class discussions and lowering the flag to half mast, said Burbank Unified Supt. Stan Carrizosa.

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“The younger children know much less than the older children,” Carrizosa said. “It is just like history now. We all lived it, but we forget that now that it is 10 years old, that we have children in our school system who weren’t alive when it happened.”

During a ceremony at Burroughs High School, special tribute was paid to the emergency responders who rushed into the World Trade Center Twin Towers just minutes before their collapse.

At Burbank High School, students watched a short video recapping 9/11, and then were joined by local civic leaders and law enforcement personnel at a somber assembly. The goal, Principal Hani Youssef said, was to honor the victims, celebrate the heroes and learn a little bit about American ceremonial traditions, including the lowering of the flag to half mast.

Mayor Jess Talamantes, who was a Burbank Fire captain at the time, recalled watching in disbelief as a plane hit the second tower. Ten years later, the courage displayed by New York firefighters and police officers continues to be an example to others, he said.

“[Today’s students] really probably don’t remember, or if they remember something, they don’t remember the significance of it,” Talamantes said. “Hopefully, we as adults can pass on to them what the significance really is, not only for United States history, but the world’s history.”

School board member Larry Applebaum, who had flown out of New York City the day before the terrorist attacks, said he did not want the memories to be a burden.

“You teach your children to understand and remember, but also to live life and enjoy the years that you have on this earth,” Applebaum said.

The message was not lost on Burbank High students.

“I think it makes people realize how great and how resilient our country is, and how we can just pick ourselves up after this tragic event,” Stephanie said.
 
 

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