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September 11 Remembrance Day

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It was a tragic day in the history of the United States, but it is thanks to all the people who put their lives on the line that the tragedy wasn't even bigger. Every year on September 11, Americans honor the bravery of those who helped save people during that same day on 2001, and remember all who are no longer with us. Since it's a sensitive topic, we want to leave the facts and the actual information to you, whereas the design of the slides is on us. The backgrounds depict the skyline of a city at night, with some important landmarks of New York, such as the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge.

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Teaching Ideas

10 Ways to Teach About 9/11 With The New York Times

Ideas for helping students think about how the Sept. 11 attacks have changed our nation and world.

presentation on 11th september

By Nicole Daniels and Michael Gonchar

Sept. 11, 2001 , is one of those rare days that, if you ask most adults what they remember, they can tell you exactly where they were, whom they were with and what they were thinking. It is a day seared in memory. But for students who were born in a post- 9/11 world and have grown up in the aftermath, it is complex history that needs to be remembered, taught and analyzed like any other historical event.

Twenty years ago, four commercial planes were hijacked by operatives from the radical Islamist group Al Qaeda. One plane was flown into the Pentagon outside Washington, D.C., and two others were flown into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York. A fourth hijacked plane crashed in Shanksville, Pa. Almost 3,000 people died that day, including more than 400 emergency workers.

In the wake of those attacks, the United States initiated a global “war on terror” to destroy Al Qaeda — a campaign that expanded into decades-long wars in Afghanistan, Iraq (even though Iraq was not responsible for Sept. 11 ) and elsewhere. In the wake of Sept. 11, the United States changed in other fundamental ways as well, from increased police surveillance to a rise in Islamophobia .

Below, we provide a range of activities that use resources from The New York Times, including archival front pages and photographs, first-person accounts, and analysis pieces published for the 20th anniversary . But we also suggest ideas borrowed from other education organizations like the Choices Program , RetroReport , the 9/11 Memorial and Museum and the Newseum .

On Sept. 30, we are hosting a free event, featuring Times journalists, for students that will look at how Sept. 11 has shaped a generation of young people who grew up in its aftermath. Teachers and students can register here , and students can submit their own videos with questions, many of which we hope to feature during the live event.

1. Reflect on What 9/11 Means to You

In the essay “ What Does It Mean to ‘Never Forget’? ,” Dan Barry writes:

Inevitably, someday there will be no one alive with a personal narrative of Sept. 11. Inevitably, the emotional impact of the day will fade a little bit, and then a little bit more, as time transforms a visceral lived experience into a dry history lesson. This transformation has already begun; ask any high school history teacher.

Or, ask any student. They are at the center of the transition that Mr. Barry describes.

Invite students to respond to one or more of the following questions, and share their responses with other students from around the world by responding to our related Student Opinion question :

What does Sept. 11 mean to you? Is it mostly a “dry history lesson” or does it resonate for you in deeper ways?

What do you know about the events that took place on Sept. 11? Where and how did you learn about them?

What questions do you have about that day and what happened next?

Have the events of Sept. 11 and its aftermath affected you personally in any way? If so, how? How do you think they may have shaped your generation as a whole?

Note: To ensure your class has a shared understanding of what happened on Sept. 11, you might want to have students watch this two-minute video or scroll through this interactive timeline , both created by the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. Alternatively, students can watch this five-minute video from the History Channel which is focused on the attacks at the World Trade Center.

2. Interview Someone Who Remembers

Although teenagers today are too young to have their own personal memories of Sept. 11, people they know and love do. The Choices Program at Brown University has created a lesson plan that walks students through the process of conducting an interview about Sept. 11 with someone they know while also considering the importance of oral history.

The accompanying student handout suggests questions that students may want to ask, such as: What were you doing on Sept. 11, 2001? How did you find out about the attacks?

After conducting their interviews, students can share what they have learned in small groups and with the class. They might even create an oral history book or site that they can share with future classes.

For inspiration or as mentor texts, students can take a look at this “Revisiting the Families” collection of short follow-up interviews and articles that Times reporters did to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the attacks. It offers small glimpses of those who lost family members, and of their lives since.

3. Revisit History’s First Draft

Newspapers have been described as “history’s first draft.” Reporters and editors from around the world who published on the morning of Sept. 12 had less than a day to figure out how to make sense of what happened for their readers.

Invite students to look closely at the New York Times front page (or the full paper ) from that day. They can click on the individual articles as well. What do they notice? What questions does the front page bring up for them? What do they learn about coverage on that first day?

Then they can investigate front pages from other newspapers from around the world and across the country. The Newseum (you’ll need to create a free account) provides images of front pages of over 100 newspapers from dozens of cities — from Anchorage and Richmond, Va., to Turku, Finland, and Osaka, Japan. Business Insider compiled some of the images from the Newseum’s archival, to show what the front pages of newspapers from around the world looked like on Sept. 12 .

Students can choose three or four front pages and take note of the similarities and differences that they see in coverage; what choices might they have made had they been editors that day; and what additional questions these front pages raise for them.

4. Look Closely at Archival Photos

Photographs can be a powerful and accessible way for students to learn more about what happened on and after Sept. 11. Students can study the New York Times photo collection “ The Towers’ Rise and Fall ,” which was originally published on the 10th anniversary of the attacks, to see what stories these 72 images tell about the World Trade Center, the terrorist attacks and the aftermath.

Students can closely investigate two or three images using our What’s Going On in This Picture? protocol from Visual Thinking Strategies :

What is going on in this picture?

What do you see that makes you say that?

What more can you find?

Or, you can invite students to take on the role of curator in a museum who is creating an exhibit about Sept. 11 in New York. They can choose only six to eight photographs to tell the story. Which images would they select and why?

5. Listen to and Read First-Person Stories

Students can watch one or more of the three-minute videos from the “ Portraits Redrawn ” series that was created by The Times for the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11. The six videos are all interviews with people who had a family member die in the attacks.

They can watch this 10-minute video from VICE in which a civilian mariner talks about assisting with the world’s largest boat lift that rescued half a million people from Lower Manhattan.

They can also watch this 12-minute RetroReport video that features interviews with emergency workers who survived the attacks at the World Trade Center and do all or part of this related lesson plan (and student activity ).

Or, students can read this article about a survivor navigating life with post-traumatic stress disorder after the attack on the World Trade Center.

After watching or reading, they can consider: What have you learned about Sept. 11 by hearing stories of survivors, families and people who died in the attacks? And, how do first-person stories change, or deepen, your understanding of what happened?

6. Consider the Importance of Memory

Op-docs: where the towers stood, the world trade center wreckage once smoldered here. now visitors come from around the world to learn, remember and grieve the loss of 9/11..

[somber music playing] [airplane engine] See it? Yeah. Am I just seeing things? Oh, jeez. Oh, they’re people. Oh. Oh, jeez, they’re people. They’re people. They’re people. [quiet music playing] I’m going to take us right here to this tree where there in shade and there is sun, so you could have which ever you prefer. So we don’t get in everyone’s way, if we can stay over here on the left hand side, we’ll be in good shape. The memorial is designed for you to make physical contact with it, to actually touch the names. So do not feel that the appropriate behavior that shows respect is to be standoffish. It is not. The only thing that we do ask — and I really doubt that any of you would have the impulse to do this anyhow — do not put things on the name. Coats, elbows, cups, bags, anything like that. The other thing I want to say to you is this was truly — you’re an international group of people — this was the World Trade Center. People from over 90 countries died here that morning. They were Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, atheists. Some made their way in the world washing dishes, others ran powerful companies, but almost every single one of them dies that morning because they do something that all of us do with most of our lives — they woke up and they went to work. [somber music playing] Excuse me. Hello. Hello, hello, hello. There’s no smoking in the plaza. No smoking in the plaza. That’s quite all right. Thank you. So I want to talk to you about the pools. Directly in front of you is the south pool. The south pool stands in the footprint of the South Tower, World Trade Center number two. So that’s exactly where World Trade Center number two stood. Can everyone see that line of trees that goes around the pool? That line of trees represents the outer wall of the building. So that means in a few minutes when we go up to see the falls and you go past those trees, you will be standing in what was once the lobby of World Trade Center number two. You’re going to see the falls. The falls come out in individual rivulets, one for each person killed on 9/11. Goes down about 20 feet or so into a huge pool. In the center of the pool, another opening goes on another 10 feet or so. No matter how hard you try, you can’t see the bottom of that opening because it’s a void, and the void is a symbol of the emptiness that we feel here over the loss of life. I’m sure all of you can see the water under the names. That water comes directly from the pool. What someone will do, visiting a loved one — and please feel free to do the very, very same — take their hand, put it in the water, rub their hand over a name. Water, of course, a symbol of life. And notice how the names are on the wall. They are not arranged in alphabetical order. For example, people who worked in the same office in this building, they’re together. Firefighters out on the same firehouse, together. Police officers out of the same police precinct, together. We call that meaningful adjacencies. People together in death just the way they were together in life. I have a stupid question. The names of the killers. Are they — Absolutely not. Not. Absolutely not. Yeah. The only place you’ll find them is if you should go into the museum, there’s a special part that deals with Al Qaeda. [somber music playing] [water cascading] [somber music playing]

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To learn more about the 9/11 Memorial in New York City, students can watch the above 18-minute video from our Film Club series. Then, they can respond to the questions below in writing or discussion.

What moments in this film stood out for you? Why?

Were there any surprises? Anything that challenged what you know — or thought you knew?

What messages, emotions or ideas will you take away from this film? Why?

What connections can you make between this film and your own life or experience? Why? Does this film remind you of anything else you’ve read or seen? If so, how and why?

Then, students can read a 2019 article about the opening of the 9/11 Memorial Glade in Lower Manhattan — a memorial for people, largely rescue and recovery workers, whose illnesses and deaths came years after Sept. 11, 2001.

After watching the video and reading the article, students can reflect on the following questions in a class discussion:

Why do we memorialize people or events? What purpose should a memorial serve?

What purpose does memorializing Sept. 11 serve? How do you think Sept. 11 can be most effectively or meaningfully memorialized?

What concerns or challenges should societies or organizations be mindful of when they create memorials? Why?

If you’re interested in furthering the conversation about the memorial in your class, the 9/11 Memorial and Museum has a collection of resources for teachers and students.

7. Evaluate International Repercussions

How the u.s. military response to the 9/11 attacks led to decades of war., officials who drove the decades-long war in afghanistan look back on the strategic mistakes and misjudgments that led to a 20-year quagmire..

Two decades after invading Afghanistan, the United States is withdrawing, leaving chaos in its wake and the country much as it found it 20 years ago. “The Taliban don’t just control Kabul, but the whole country.” How did a war that began in response to the 9/11 attacks become the longest in American history? “If somebody had told me in 2001 that we were going to be there for another 20 years, I would not have believed them.” And what lessons can be learned for the future? “We were doing the same thing year after year after year, expecting a different result.” “Nearly 2,400 Americans have died in Afghanistan.” “More than 43,000 Afghan civilians lost their lives.” “You can’t remake a country on the American image. You can’t win if you’re fighting people who are fighting for their own villages and their own territory. Those were lessons we thought we learned in Vietnam. And yet, 30, 40 years later, we end up in Afghanistan, repeating the same mistakes.” On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, President George W. Bush was visiting an elementary school in Sarasota, Fla., when he received word of an attack on the World Trade Center in New York City. “We’re looking at a live picture of the, of the building right now. And, uh, what would you say? That would be about the 90th floor or so?” The president joined his staff in an empty classroom, where his C.I.A. intelligence briefer, Michael Morell, had been watching the attack unfold. “There was a TV there and the second plane hit.” “Oh my goodness.” “Oh God.” “There’s another one.” “Oh.” “Oh my goodness, there’s another one.” “God.” “And when that happened, I knew that this was an act of terrorism.” At the Capitol in Washington, Representative Barbara Lee’s meeting was interrupted. “I heard a lot of noise saying, ‘Evacuate. Leave. Get out of here. Run fast.’ So, I ran up Independence Avenue. As I turned around, I was able to see a heck of a lot of smoke.” “Another aircraft, unbelievably, has crashed into the Pentagon.” “What you have to understand is this is the largest attack ever in the entire history of the country.” At 9:59 a.m., the second World Trade Center tower to be struck collapsed. Twenty-nine minutes later, the other tower followed. “The president, he asked to see me in his office on Air Force One. The president looked me in the eye and he said, ‘Michael, who did this?’ I told the president that I would bet my children’s future that Al Qaeda was responsible for this attack.” Within hours, evidence surfaced that Al Qaeda, a multinational terrorist organization headed by the Islamic fundamentalist Osama Bin Laden, had committed the attacks. The group was being given safe haven in Afghanistan by the Taliban regime. “The president’s inclination was to hit back and hit back hard.” “I can hear you. The rest of the world hears you. And the people — ” “So the president decided to go to war.” “ — And the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.” “We had to go to Afghanistan. There’s no question in any of our minds, it’s a war of necessity. We had to go after Al Qaeda, we had to kill them, we had to get them out, and we had to pursue them to the ends of the earth.” “The word on the street was everyone’s got to be united with the president. You know, the country is in mourning.” Three days after the attacks, Lee was under pressure to vote yes on a resolution in Congress to authorize going to war against Al Qaeda and its allies when she heard a eulogy at a memorial service. “That as we act, we not become the evil we deplore.” “It was at that point I said, We need to think through our military response, our national security response and the possible impact on civilians.” “Mr. Speaker, members, I rise today really with a very heavy heart. One that is filled with sorrow for the families and the loved ones who were killed and injured this week. Yet I am convinced that military action will not prevent further acts of international terrorism against the United States.” “Got back to the office and all hell was breaking loose.” “The only dissenting voice was Democrat Barbara Lee of California, voting no.” “Phone calls, threats. People were calling me a traitor. She’s got to go. But I knew then it was going to set the stage for perpetual war.” Within weeks of 9/11, the U.S. struck back in Afghanistan. “The United States military has begun strikes against Al Qaeda terrorist training camps and military installations of the Taliban regime.” Soon after, U.S. ground troops arrived in the country. “The invasion was a success very quickly.” “At the gates of Kabul, news of a Taliban collapse had already reached these thousands.” “The Taliban retreat has turned into a rout.” “By the end of the year, the Taliban had been driven from power. A large number of Al Qaeda operatives had either been killed or captured.” And although Osama Bin Laden had managed to escape, the U.S. had accomplished its main goal. “Al Qaeda could not operate out of Afghanistan anymore.” President Bush knew there was a history of failed military campaigns in Afghanistan. “We know this from not only intelligence but from the history of military conflict in Afghanistan. It’s been one of initial success followed by long years of floundering and ultimate failure. We’re not going to repeat that mistake.” [Applause] But after his initial success, Bush expanded the mission to nation-building. To prevent further Al Qaeda attacks, his administration said it wanted to transform the poor, war-torn country into a stable democracy, with a strong central government and U.S.-trained military. “The idea was it would be impossible for the Taliban to ever return to power and impossible for Afghanistan to ever be used as a safe haven again.” “There were girls starting to go to school, there were clinics and hospitals being set up, there were vaccinations, there were elections planned. Everything was kind of humming along and we all thought, OK, this is going to be fine.” But by the mid-2000s, after the Bush administration expanded the war on terror to Iraq, Richard Boucher realized that the U.S.-backed Afghan government was plagued by corruption and mismanagement. “I used to say to my guys on the Afghan desk, ‘If we’re winning, how come it don’t look like we’re winning?’” “The Taliban have staged a major comeback, seizing control of large swaths of the country.” “The people were not rejecting the Taliban. And that was, in the end, because the government couldn’t deliver much for the people. Everybody had this idea in their heads that government works the way it does in Washington. But Afghanistan hasn’t worked that way in the past. I think that was a moment we should’ve at least asked ourselves whether it wasn’t really time for us to leave and to say to the Afghans, ‘It’s your place, you run it as best you can.’” Instead, by 2011, President Bush’s successor, Barack Obama, had sent nearly 50,000 more troops to Afghanistan, hoping to reverse the Taliban’s gains. “I think one of the biggest mistakes we made strategically, after 9/11, was to fail to finish the job here, focus our attention here. We got distracted by Iraq.” One of those troops was Marine Captain Timothy Kudo. Part of his job was to shore up support for the government by digging wells and building schools. He soon lost faith in that mission after, he says, his company killed two Afghan teenagers they mistakenly believed were firing on them. “And their family saw this happen. The mothers, the grandmothers, they came out. It was the first time I’d ever seen an Afghan woman without wearing a burqa. They were sobbing and crying uncontrollably. I mean, how can you kill two innocent people and expect anything that you say to matter at that point?” “People here have little faith in U.S. forces anymore. More Afghans now blame the violence here on the U.S. than on the Taliban.” Weeks after Kudo returned home from Afghanistan, there was a monumental development. “I started getting all these texts, like, ‘You’ve got to check out the TV.’ My roommate calls me from the other room. ‘Turn on CNN.’” “The United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama Bin Laden, the leader of Al Qaeda.” “U.S.A.! U.S.A.!” “In that moment, people are celebrating in front of the White House. They’re celebrating by Ground Zero.” “This is where it happened. We’re back. It’s justice!” “And to my mind, there’s no more reason to go through this madness. And, of course, we then did it for another decade.” “I think the military and the national security apparatus thought they could win. And I think that they also wanted to believe that because they had invested so much. People had died and they didn’t want them to die in vain.” “2011, Bin Laden is now dead. Why was it so hard to de-escalate?” Jeffrey Eggers was on President Obama’s National Security Council. He says that the goal since 9/11, to make sure Afghanistan would never again be a safe haven for terrorists, had become a recipe for endless war. “We will forever prevent the conditions that led to such an attack.” “Danger close!” [Gunfire] “And if you define it that way, when are you finished?” [Gunfire] “Go! Come on, come on, come on!” Though the surge failed to push back the Taliban, the U.S. drew down troop levels even as doubts were growing that Afghan forces would be able to defend the country. In 2021, President Biden, the fourth president to preside over the war, announced that he would withdraw U.S. troops, a plan set in motion by his predecessor, Donald Trump. “Nobody should have any doubts. We lost the war in Afghanistan.” “And we’re clear to cross?” “It wasn’t a peace agreement; it was a withdrawal agreement. The agreement was essentially, As we withdraw, don’t attack us.” As the U.S. leaves Afghanistan, the Taliban is taking over again, having quickly overrun the Afghan Army, which the U.S. spent more than $80 billion to train and equip. “The Taliban are out in full force. And their Islamist rule is already coming back.” “They can use this as a recruiting tool. They are now the champions of the jihadi movement because they pushed out the United States.” And U.S. officials are reflecting on the beginning of the war, 20 years after 9/11. “More people should have thought about endless war, not just in Congress but in the State Department, in the Defense Department, C.I.A. and elsewhere, in the White House. That the recipe of using military means to go after terrorism was just going to get us into one fight after another after another. One can only hope that Americans of the new generation will think about this.”

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In an address to Congress and the nation on Sept. 20, 2001, President George W. Bush made it clear that the response to the terrorist attacks would not be confined to a single military strike on one group, network or country: “Our war on terror begins with Al Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated.”

Help students uncover the motivation behind the attacks and evaluate the international repercussions of the “war on terror” using the following resources:

The Terrorist Attack : Who was responsible for the attacks on Sept. 11? Why did they target the United States, and particularly civilians? Britannica and USA Today each offer brief summaries of the plot and the roles of Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. To go more in depth, you might have students watch the three-part documentary series “ Road to 9/11 ” from the History Channel, which provides a 360-degree overview of events that led to the attack.

To help students understand why the World Trade Center, Pentagon and U.S. Capitol were targeted, see the 9/11 Memorial and Museum lesson plan, “ Targeting American Symbols .”

The U.S. Response and the Global “War on Terror”: On Oct. 7, 2001, just weeks after the attacks, Mr. Bush announced that America had started a bombing campaign against Al Qaeda, the group responsible for the attacks, and the Taliban, the group that harbored them in Afghanistan.

So began the longest war in American history, which ended this year with the removal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. What did the war accomplish? Use our Lesson of the Day on “ The U.S. War in Afghanistan: How It Started, and How It Ended ” to have students evaluate the causes and consequences of the 20-year conflict. They can also watch the 10-minute RetroReport video (embedded above), which looks at the decisions that shaped the war. And, they can use our Lesson of the Day “ What Will Become of Afghanistan’s Post-9/11 Generation? ” about how the lives of young people in Afghanistan have suddenly changed with the withdrawal of U.S. forces.

Beyond The Times, see the five-part lesson plan “ The Costs of War ,” created by the Choices Program, which examines the human, economic, social and political costs of the “war on terror” through videos and class discussions.

Veterans of the War in Afghanistan: Listen to voices of veterans in The Argument podcast episode “ You Don’t Bring Democracy at the Point of a Gun ” or read about their experiences in the essay “ Serving in a Twenty Year War .” How do these firsthand accounts and perspectives change how students understand the realities of the so-called war on terror? What questions would they ask these veterans if they were New York Times reporters?

After exploring one or more of the pieces in this section, students might discuss the prompts below:

What is terrorism? Why do some individuals and groups target civilians for political purposes?

Was the United States justified in using military force in Afghanistan after Sept. 11? What is the legacy of the “war on terror”? Has it made us safer?

What lessons can we learn from the war? How do you think the United States and other countries should work toward preventing future terrorist attacks? If the United States, or another country, were hit by foreign terrorism again in the future, how should we respond? What principles, critical questions and experiences should help us form our response?

8. Examine Ripple Effects in the United States

In the two decades since Sept. 11, many aspects of American life have changed, from travel and art to education and immigration . Your conversation with students about post-9/11 America could take on any one or many of these topics. Below, we suggest two possible lenses, based on recent Times texts, through which to examine the ripple effects in the United States:

Muslims in America : Invite students to read “ Muslim Americans’ ‘Seismic Change’ ” by Elizabeth Dias and consider how the aftermath of Sept. 11 has brought both challenges, including a surge in Islamophobia, but also possibilities for the Muslim American community, such as the election of Muslim Americans to Congress and award-winning television featuring Muslim American actors and stories, that would have been unfathomable 20 years ago.

Civil Liberties and Surveillance: Two decades after the attacks, police departments across the United States, and particularly the N.Y.P.D., are using counterterrorism tools, like facial recognition software, to combat routine street crime. Although police officials say these methods have helped thwart would-be attacks, others say they subject everyday people to “near-constant surveillance — a burden that falls more heavily on people of color.” Invite students to read “ How the N.Y.P.D. Is Using Post-9/11 Tools on Everyday New Yorkers ” and debate the benefits and drawbacks of these tactics.

After reading one or both of these articles, students might discuss the following questions:

In what important ways has Sept. 11 transformed American life?

Did anything described in the articles connect with anything you’ve experienced, read or witnessed? How have these changes affected your life, whether you knew it or not?

What does America’s response to Sept. 11 say about the United States today?

9. Explore Why Conspiracy Theories Sometimes Flourish

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Today’s students are often familiar with conspiracy theories and their popularity on social media. Here is how one student responded to our 2020 Student Opinion question: Do You Think Online Conspiracy Theories Can Be Dangerous? :

Conspiracy theories can either be malicious, dumb fun, or anything in between. Some conspiracy theories can be serious and about tragedies such as 9/11, but some conspiracy theories can be interesting, such as bots in a video game being alive. I enjoy a conspiracy theory every now or then, but I wouldn’t take them as an absolute truth, you always have to take them with a grain of salt.

In the article “ How a Viral Video Bent Reality ,” Kevin Roose writes about how the conspiracy film “Loose Change” energized the “9/11 truther” movement and also supplied the template for the current age of disinformation.

Students can read this article and consider some of the questions raised in the article:

Why do you think some people are drawn to conspiracy theories?

What role does technology play in the spread of conspiracy theories?

Respond to this quote from the article: “A more urgent lesson to take from ‘Loose Change’ is that conspiracy theories tend to flourish in low-trust environments, during periods of change and confusion.” Why do you think that is? How does that lesson apply to today’s world?

You can pair this article with the Student Opinion question mentioned above, inviting students to post their own comments in response to that question, or with our Lesson of the Day “How to Deal With a Crisis of Misinformation,” which includes strategies for countering misinformation.

10. Watch Our On-Demand Panel for Students: The Post-9/11 Generation

How did 9/11 shape the generation that grew up in its aftermath?

With New York Times journalists and student voices, we discuss this question in our special interactive panel. The panel features Yousur Al-Hlou and Biz Herman, who examined how Sept. 11 has been taught in classrooms around the world, and Kiana Hayeri, who photographed young Afghans as they experienced the recent withdrawal of U.S. troops from their country. Invite students to register and view the on-demand panel .

Want more? For the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11, in 2011, we published this roundup of hundreds of resources from The Learning Network and The New York Times for teaching about Sept. 11 and the aftermath, including ideas from educators across the country and links to the front pages of The Times for the 10 days after Sept. 11.

Nicole Daniels has been a staff editor with The Learning Network since 2019. More about Nicole Daniels

Lesson Plan

Sept. 10, 2023, 7:45 p.m.

Lesson plan: 9/11 — Ways to reflect on the day’s legacy

The moon rises between the "Tribute in Light" illuminated next to One World Trade Center during 911 anniversary, as seen from Jersey City, New Jersey

September 11th will remain a day that shaped the course of the nation’s — and the world’s — history. Students in high school and middle school who were not yet born on September 11, 2001, have still grown up in a cultural and political environment that owes much to the actions of the United States in response to 9/11.

The purpose of this lesson is to invite participants to generate and share their own questions about both the day of 9/11 and the larger context of the response that followed, including the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan that is just now ending after two decades.

You can see more stories from the NewsHour examining how this recent history has shaped the nation and the world. These NewsHour pieces will become optional components of the lesson.

Click here for a series of slides that can supplement this lesson (note: you will be prompted to make a copy).

  • Understand the history and impact of the 9/11 attacks
  • Construct critical questions around the anniversary of 9/11 and its present-day context
  • Evaluate & reflect on personal understanding of 9/11 through critical questions

Grade Levels

Supplemental links.


CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.9-10.1: Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text. 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.11-12.7: Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, as well as in words) in order to address a question or solve a problem. CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.9-10.9: Compare and contrast treatments of the same topic in several primary and secondary sources.

Original lesson appeared Sept. 11, 2021.

Twin Towers September 11th 9/11

Sun setting behind Twin Towers. (Photo by Robert Pirillo/Ovoworks/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images) For a Google version of this lesson click here . A note on teaching hard history: Most educators can recall exactly where they were and what they were doing when 9/11 unfolded. Today’s generation of students does not share this collective memory, with today’s high school seniors being born a few years after 2001.

Teaching 9/11 on its anniversary has its merits, as does teaching 9/11 within the curricular context of American and global history. We encourage educators to explore the wealth of resources provided in this lesson plan, to examine their own unanswered questions and biases, and to reflect on pedagogical practice before bringing in traumatic and provocative images of 9/11. Check out “Trauma-Informed Teaching Strategies” and consider how you might design lessons that engage with hard history with a trauma-informed lens. Read Learning for Justice's article “Debunking Stereotypes About Muslims and Islam” and incorporate media literacy education as you confront misinformation.

In addition, consider doing the following:

  • Preview your expectations or reminding your class about norms
  • Name clearly the topics; create time for participants to reflect and process
  • Teach with a trauma-informed lens
  • Consider the emotional response of your participants and yourself

Warm up activities (5-10 mins):

Note for instructors: Whether you’re teaching about 9/11 on the anniversary of the attacks or as a part of your broader curriculum, starting with the questions participants have can set up an anchor and circular flow (returning to those questions to close out or build upon them in the end). Remind participants to be and stay curious and to practice the skill of writing and developing strong questions.

  • Generate: Participants write as many questions as they can about the September 11 attacks — without stopping to revise, edit, evaluate or answer their questions.
  • Reflect: Then, participants circle or mark their three most important questions — and briefly reflect on why they selected these three.
  • Turn & Talk: Participants turn and share their three questions, noting what may overlap or be different, and have partners share out questions to gauge what participants are curious about. This is also an opportunity to note any misinformation or incorrect assumptions participants may have to clarify & revisit. Read “Debunking Stereotypes About Muslims and Islam” by Learning for Justice to learn more.

Main activities (30-45 mins)

Directions: Choose one or more activity best suited to your class based on the many factors your role as a teacher requires you to know.

  • Watch the 9/11 Memorial Museum’s short film (3 minutes): This video outlines the events on the morning of 9/11. As participants listen, instruct them to watch for any answers to the questions they just constructed. CONTENT WARNING : This video contains images of the Twin Towers and the Pentagon after they are hit.
  • Optional: Take a detour into a robust timeline of the 9/11 attacks using this interactive guide at the 9/11 Memorial & Museum and pair it with this “Historical Timeline of Afghanistan” from PBS NewsHour . Focus on context-building, asking participants to investigate questions, connections and narratives they see represented.
  • Clarify and reflect (5-10 mins): Turning to talk with their partners again (or return to their notebook to write), what did participants notice about the short clip or (timelines) that answered some of their questions?
  • Together with their partner, what new questions can they create? Note: If a participant replies with “I don’t have any questions,” encourage them to practice the skill of questioning and examining what they think, why they think it and what they wonder. Encourage curiosity.
  • Share this infographic with participants. After reviewing, ask participants: What surprises them? Does anything connect to the questions they crafted?

presentation on 11th september

via slideshow -- see link at top of lesson

via slideshow — see link at top of lesson

  • Ask participants: What stories do these numbers tell? What stories don’t these numbers tell? (Can invite participants to update their list of questions here, pushing into open-ended questions vs. closed questions.)
  • Watch The 9/11 Memorial & Museum has a trailer (3 minutes) for one of their programs featuring some personal connections individuals have to 9/11.
  • What did you notice, what surprised you, or what do you now wonder after hearing from some individuals who have a personal connection to that day?
  • Now that you’ve reviewed or learned some of the historical context of 9/11, what do you know or wonder about the legacy of 9/11? What impact has the 9/11 terrorist attacks had on the United States? Other countries? Ordinary and everyday people in the United States?
  • Turn & talk: Have participants share some of their ideas, questions and reflections with their partner.
  • Whole group: Invite participants to share any ideas, encourage questions and discuss together.

Part 3 (Choose one or more of the following activities)

Each night this week, PBS NewsHour features stories that examine some of the ways 9/11 transformed the nation and world. Choose one or more of the following available stories to discuss.

  • What do you notice?
  • What do you wonder?
  • Does your community share anything in common with the communities of the speakers? How so?
  • How does (or did) 9/11 impact different communities? How so?
  • What other connections or questions can you craft?
  • NewsHour's Amna Nawaz says: “20 years later, there is now an entire generation of young American adults, including American Muslims, who don’t have firsthand memories of [9/11], who did not live through the trauma, as all of us did.”
  • How do you think the impact of 9/11 varies from generation to generation? What similarities or differences do you notice among your generation versus your parent’s generation? And older generations?

  • What are some of the ways these students' lives have been directly impacted by the legacy of 9/11?
  • What are some ways these students sees their generation's experience as different from past generations?
  • What is Middletown’s connection to the 9/11 attacks?
  • What were the different perspectives shared on how families coped with the loss of loved ones in the attacks?
  • How does this feature story expand or inform what you already know about 9/11?
  • Why is it important to understand the emotional reaction of U.S. citizens on the day of 9/11, according to Graff?
  • What is the connection that Graff makes between 9/11 and political polarization?
  • What do you think Graff means when he says 9/11 is slipping “from memory into history”? What are your first memories of learning about 9/11 or understanding the day’s events and legacy?
  • As a generation, what has shaped your view and understanding of 9/11? How so? How might this differ from other generations or communities?
  • What perspectives and narratives are you seeing and hearing surrounding the 20th anniversary of 9/11?
  • How do you think the legacy of 9/11 will continue to evolve?
  • Whose stories are being told? Is anyone’s voice missing?

Closing (10-15 mins)

Circle back to warm up questions for clarifying and answering the unanswered questions. (Could be collected as an exit ticket or final turn and talk.)

  • Look back over the questions you created at the start of class.
  • What’s one question that has been answered today?
  • What’s a new question you have or are thinking about? What’s left unanswered for you? What are you wondering about?
  • What’s the impact of 9/11 on your generation? What do you predict will be the legacy of 9/11 for future generations?

Extension activities

Extension 1, Poetry Focus: Days before 9/11, poet Lucille Clifton welcomed a granddaughter into the world and remembers eating lunch on the day itself as she “watched on television the devastation of the Twin Towers.” In her poem “September’s Song: A Poem in Seven Days,” she examines “love and continuing and fear and hope.”

Share this excerpt of Tuesday and Sunday from the longer poem with students , reading aloud together or ask participants to annotate a copy of the poem (or digitally with a partner using this Google Doc). [Note: September 11, 2001 was a Tuesday]

Write in response:

  • Ask participants to write their own day poem connecting to the themes of hope and fear, of love and continuing, mimicking some of Clifton’s style.
  • Do not require participants to write specifically about 9/11. Instead leave the invitation open for them to write about what they choose.
  • Or invite participants to identify vivid imagery, metaphors or symbols in the poem.
  • Compare Clifton’s poem with excerpts from “ With Their Eyes: September 11th — The View From A High School at Ground Zero. ” What word choice evokes an emotional response in the reader? How does the physical structure of the poems impact the way it is read aloud? As writers, what writing moves might participants employ in their own writing?

Extension 2 : Just over a year ago, more than 123,000 Afghan refugees, many fearing for their lives, were evacuated from Afghanistan and were resettled all over the world, including the United States. Thousands of Afghans did not make it out of the country before the U.S. military's departure on Aug. 30. Explore who, what, when, where and how of the refugees arriving in the U.S., and what local community organizations are still working to provide assistance. Read this NewsHour article for more information.

  • Inquire: What do trustworthy and credible charities and organizations look like?
  • Explore: What is being done locally in your area or state?
  • Understand: What don’t you know? What questions do you have?
  • Apply: How could your class, school, or community support and welcome refugees?
  • What are the latest updates as to the Afghan refugees welfare and status in the U.S. and around the world?

Evacuation from Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul

U.S. Air Force loadmasters and pilots assigned to the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, load passengers aboard a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III in support of the Afghanistan evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, August 24, 2021. Picture taken August 24, 2021. U.S. Air Force/Master Sgt. Donald R. Allen/Handout via REUTERS

Kate Stevens, M.S. in Curriculum & Instruction, is an instructional coach and educator with more than a decade of experience in online, hybrid, and blended learning. In 2015, Kate was honored with Colorado Department of Education’s Online & Blended Teacher of the Year. Connect with Kate on Twitter @KateTeaching.

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Slide Show: Remembering 9/11, Twelve Years Later

presentation on 11th september

By The New Yorker

At 8:46 A.M. on Wednesday, twelve years to the minute after the first plane crashed into the World Trade Center, hundreds of people gathered at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, in lower Manhattan. Others throughout the country also paused to mourn and honor those who died; President Obama held a ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House. Below is a series of images from the twelfth-anniversary events at the 9/11 Memorial and of some of Wednesday’s other moments of remembrance.

Firefighters stand alongside the 911 Memorial at the World Trade Center site during ceremonies for the twelfth...

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Help inform the discussion

Timeline: The September 11 terrorist attacks

The day that defined the beginning of the 21st Century for Americans

On September 11, 2001, 2,977 people were killed in the deadliest terrorist attacks in American history.

The World Trade Center in March, 2001

The moment shocked the nation. Two planes, hijacked by Islamic jihadists vowing death to all Americans, plowed into both towers at the World Trade Center in New York. Another plane was flown into the Pentagon in Washington, DC. A fourth plane, presumably headed for the White House or the U.S. Capitol, was heroically diverted by passengers and ended up crashing in an empty field in Pennsylvania. After reports of the first plane hitting the North Tower, millions watched the second plane hit the South Tower on live television.

It was a terrifying, startling, and humbling event for the country. The 9/11 attacks were the deadliest on American soil since the shock attack at Pearl Harbor 60 years before, and the sense of outrage was reminiscent of that moment. The attacks in New York occurred in the country’s busiest city on a busy workday. And the staggered nature of the attacks meant that news footage captured almost everything as it happened, ensuring that millions of Americans saw the events precisely as they unfolded.

Flight paths of hijacked planes

September 11, 2001

5:45 AM – Mohamed Atta and Abdul Aziz al-Omari, two of the intended hijackers, pass through security at the Portland International Jetport in Maine. They board a commuter flight to Boston Logan International Airport, they then board American Airlines Flight 11 .

7:59 AM – Flight 11 takes off from Boston, headed for Los Angeles, California. There are 76 passengers, 11 crew members, and 5 hijackers on board.

8:15 AM – United Airlines Flight 175 takes off from Boston, also headed for Los Angeles. There are 51 passengers, 9 crew members, and 5 hijackers on board.

8:19 AM – A flight attendant on Flight 11 , Betty Ann Ong, alerts ground personnel that a hijacking is underway and that the cockpit is unreachable.

8:20 AM – American Airlines Flight 77 takes off from Dulles, outside of Washington, DC, headed for Los Angeles. There are 53 passengers, 6 crew members, and 5 hijackers on board.

8:24 AM – Mohamed Atta, a hijacker on Flight 11 , unintentionally alerts air controllers in Boston to the attack. He meant to press the button that allowed him to talk to the passengers on his flight.

8:37 AM – After hearing the broadcast from Atta on Flight 11 , Boston air traffic control alerts the US Air Force’s Northeast Defense Sector, who then mobilize the Air National Guard to follow the plane.

8:42 AM – United Flight 93 takes off from Newark, New Jersey, after a delay due to routine traffic. It was headed for San Francisco, California. There are 33 passengers, 7 crew members, and 4 hijackers are on board.

8:46 AM – Flight 11 crashes into the World Trade Center’s North Tower. All passengers aboard are instantly killed, and employees of the WTC are trapped above the 91 st floor.

9:03 AM – Flight 175 crashes into the WTC’s South Tower. All passengers aboard are killed instantly and so are an unknown number of people in the tower.

9:05 AM – President George W. Bush, in an elementary school classroom in Florida, is informed about the hit on the second tower. His chief of staff, Andrew Card, whispers the chilling news into the president’s ear. Bush later wrote about his response: “I made the decision not to jump up immediately and leave the classroom. I didn’t want to rattle the kids. I wanted to project a sense of calm… I had been in enough crises to know that the first thing the leader has to do is to project calm.” ( Miller Center )

Bush at the Elementary School

9:28 AM – Hijackers attack on Flight 93 .

9:37 AM – Flight 77 crashes into the Pentagon. All passengers aboard are instantly killed and so are 125 civilian and military personnel in the building.

9:45 AM – US airspace is shut down under Operation Yellow Ribbon. All civilian aircraft are ordered to land at the nearest airport.

Bush on the phone learning about the attack

9:55 AM – Air Force One with President George W. Bush aboard takes off from Florida.

9:57 AM – Passengers aboard Flight 93 begin to run up toward the cockpit. Jarrah, the pilot, begins to roll the plane back and forth in an attempt to destabilize the revolt.

9:59 AM – The South Tower of the World Trade Center collapses.

The South Tower Collapses

10:02 AM – Flight 93 plows into an empty field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Although its ultimate target is unknown, it was likely heading for either the White House or the US Capitol.

Flight 93 Crash Site

10:18 AM – President Bush authorizes any non-grounded planes to be shot down. At that time, all four hijacked planes had already crashed but the president’s team was operating under the impression that Flight 93 was still in the air.

10:28 AM – The North Tower of the World Trade Center collapses.

10:53 AM – Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld orders the US military to move to a higher state of alert, going to DEFCON 3.

11:45 AM – Air Force 1 lands at Barksdale Air Force Base near Shreveport, Louisiana.

12:15 PM – Airspace in the United States is completely free of all commercial and private flights.

1:30 PM – Air Force 1 leaves Barksdale.

2:30 PM – Rudy Giuliani, the mayor of New York City, visits the fallen Twin Towers of the World Trade Center at what becomes known as Ground Zero.

Mayor Giuliani at Ground Zero with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld

3:00 PM – Air Force 1 lands at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska, and President Bush is immediately taken to a secure bunker that is capable of withstanding a nuclear attack.

4:30 PM – Air Force 1 leaves Offutt and heads back toward Andrews Air Force base near Washington, DC.

Bush Talks to Cheney from Air Force One

5:30 PM – Building 7 of the World Trade Center collapses.

8:30 PM – President Bush addresses the nation.

Helicopter Photo of Ground Zero

Although to many Americans 9/11 seemed like a random act of terror, the roots of the event had been developing for years. A combination of factors that coalesced in the late 1990s led the catastrophic event. These factors included regional conditions in the Middle East that motivated the perpetrators, as well as intelligence lapses and failures that  left the United States vulnerable.

Osama bin Laden in November, 2001

Osama Bin Laden was relatively unknown in the United States before 9/11, even as he was amassing popularity, followers, and fame in the Middle East during the 1990s. In 1988, he was one of the founders of al Qaeda, a militant Islamic terrorist organization that organized and carried out the 9/11 attacks. Bin Laden called for indiscriminate killing of all Americans who, he claimed, were “the worst thieves in the world today” (9/11 Report, page 47). It was the perfect historical moment for that rallying cry.

Throughout the 20th century, a wave of secular, nationalist revolutions swept through the Middle East, taking root in Egypt, Libya, Iraq, Yemen, and other countries. While these movements were awash in promising ideology, the new regimes quickly became autocratic and suppressed dissent. Their critics turned to violent revolution to express their dissatisfaction with the secular governments.

At the same time, social malaise, especially among young men who were struggling to find decent jobs and start their own families in corrupt oil states, provided easy targets for radicalization. Bin Laden’s message that America was the “head of the snake” and the root of all society’s problems resonated well with the discontent.

By the mid-1990s, Bin Laden was the head of al Qaeda, a multifaceted and highly developed terrorist network carrying out attack after attack on Americans in the Middle East. It was a new type of terrorism to which the US intelligence agencies struggled to adapt. Much of the intelligence community had not even imaged the specific type of hijacking and terrorism carried out on 9/11. They were preparing for threats such as the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center and bombing in 2000 of the USS Cole .

Aftermath of the 1993 WTC Bombing

Much of the intelligence community’s focus was on reactive law enforcement activity rather than proactive countering of terrorism. A telling quote from the 9/11 commission report focuses on the lack of a proactive response: “The process was meant, by its nature, to mark for the public as the events finished – case solved, justice done. It was not designed to ask if the events might be harbingers of worse to come. Nor did it allow for aggregating and analyzing facts to see if they could provide clues to terrorist tactics more generally – methods of entry and finance, and mode of operation inside the United States” (Commission Report, p. 73).

Bin Laden had amassed substantial power due to conditions in the Middle East as well as his charismatic leadership, and the US intelligence community was underprepared for a 9/11 style attack. In the aftermath of 9/11, these two factors continued to affect US policy in the Middle East, particularly in Iraq.

The immediate response to 9/11 was the George W. Bush administration’s War on Terror, which began in Afghanistan as a retaliation against al Qaeda for carrying out the attack. The Bush administration soon expanded the War on Terror into Iraq, and the consequences of these wars continue to affect the Middle East to this day. Almost 20 years later, the United States is still at war in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

American Soldier in Iraq, 2005

There were domestic long-term effects of 9/11 as well. Thousands of people struggle with cancer and lasting chronic health problems relating to the toxicity from Ground Zero, the site where the Twin Towers used to stand. The September 11 attacks also changed American air travel as airlines began to require stringent security checks designed to prevent the types of weapons the hijackers used from slipping through.

Finally, the 9/11 attacks resulted in changes to the federal government and an expansion of executive power. A new cabinet department, the Department of Homeland Security, was created, and the intelligence community was consolidated under the Director of National Intelligence to improve coordination between various agencies and departments. New legislation such as the USA Patriot Act expanded domestic security and surveillance, disrupted terrorist funding by cracking down on activities such as money laundering, and increased efficiency within the U.S. intelligence community.

The tragedy of September 11, 2001 will never be forgotten, and the aftermath is still continuing to unfold. The 9/11 Memorial and Museum opened on the site of the former World Trade Center on September 11, 2011, and features reflecting pools in the footprints of where the Twin Towers once stood.

Return to 9/11 landing page against New York skyline

Katherine Huiskes

Katherine Huiskes is a member of UVA's class of 2021, where she studied foreign affairs and history, with a particular interest in policymaking, cybersecurity, and military budgeting.

More on the presidency of George W. Bush

Read the 9/11 commission report, click here to read the report, more about the september 11 attacks, the road to 9/11, the road from 9/11, lessons learned from september 11, the roots of september 11: america and afghanistan, world politics after september 11: a clash of civilizations.

Stanford University

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presentation on 11th september

New York City skyline with The Tribute in Light 9/11 memorial and the Statue of Liberty. (Image credit: Getty Images)

How Stanford scholars are teaching the next generation about 9/11

On the 20th anniversary of 9/11, four Stanford scholars and leading experts in national security, terrorism and contemporary conflict – Condoleezza Rice, Amy Zegart, Martha Crenshaw and Lisa Blaydes – reflect on how their teaching of the terrorist attacks has evolved.

For those who remember Sept. 11, 2001, details of the day – the confusion, chaos and collective grief – are as clear now as they were 20 years ago when the deadliest terrorist attack in U.S. history occurred.

But many college students today have no memories of 19 al-Qaida operatives hijacking four commercial airplanes and killing nearly 3,000 people in a terrorist attack on the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon outside Washington, D.C, and a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Teaching this next generation about the passion and the intensity that defined that pivotal moment is difficult, says Condoleezza Rice , who was the U.S. National Security Advisor at the time of the attacks.

For the new generation of students, 9/11 is now a part of history. “It would be like people trying to convey the intensity of World War II to me,” said Rice, who went on to serve as the 66th secretary of state of the United States under President George W. Bush before returning to her professorship at Stanford in 2009.

Rice, now the Tad and Dianne Taube Director of the Hoover Institution, was in the White House on that Tuesday morning of Sept 11. When she discusses the attacks with her students, her experiences on that day inevitably come up.

She is candid in her recounting. “That helps to vivify it because it’s a personal story,” Rice said.


When President George W. Bush returned to Washington, D.C., on Sept. 11, 2001, he met with Condoleezza Rice, who was then U.S. National Security Advisor, as well as from left: Vice President Dick Cheney, Chief of Staff Andy Card and Special Agent Carl Truscott of the U.S. Secret Service in the Presidential Emergency Operations Center of the White House. (Image credit: Eric Draper, Courtesy George W. Bush Presidential Library / Getty Images)


Condoleezza Rice, who served as President George W. Bush’s national security advisor before becoming the 66th Secretary of State of the United States, is pictured here taking notes from a phone call through a window in the Outer Oval Office on September 18, 2001. (Image credit: Smith Collection / Gado / Getty Images)

Rice shares how, when the first plane hit the North Tower at the World Trade Center at 8:46 a.m., she and others were uncertain about the cause of the crash. She remembers wondering whether it could have been an accident. But when the second hijacked plane hit the remaining South Tower 17 minutes later, Rice knew it had to be a terrorist attack on the United States.

Then there was the short period when Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld could not be reached because the Pentagon was also hit that morning, Rice said. She, along with other senior government leaders, were ushered into the White House bunker. She tells students that around noon that day, oxygen levels started to drop because too many people were crammed into the fortified space. “So the Secret Service was going around saying, ‘You have to leave, you are not essential; you have to leave, you are not essential.’ You would never plan for such a thing as that,” she said.

Inevitably, a student will ask her if she was afraid. Rice was so taken aback the first time she faced that question that she actually paused to think about it – and then concluded that she wasn’t. “I didn’t have time to be scared,” Rice recalled. “You can fear for your loved ones, but you are not allowed to feel personal fear. You don’t think about that in the moment.”

“I try to help [students] understand how we are still living the effects of 9/11.” —Condoleezza Rice Director, Hoover Institution; Former U.S. National Security Advisor and 66th Secretary of State

Rice also emphasized the importance of talking to students about how 9/11 transformed the world and that what seems routine today – such as additional airport screenings and the formation of new government institutions – didn’t even exist before the attacks.

“I try to help them understand how we are still living the effects of 9/11,” said Rice. “It isn’t an event that happened one day and then was over, but everything from the way that you go through an airport to something called ‘homeland security,’ which you didn’t have before 9/11.”

Teaching 9/11 since 9/11

The attacks also introduced into the wider vernacular new places – like Afghanistan – and people – like Osama bin Laden – that students 20 years ago knew very little or nothing about.

Stanford scholars Amy Zegart and Martha Crenshaw experienced this firsthand on the day of the attacks when they found themselves in the surreal situation of teaching about 9/11 on 9/11. Both were so shocked by the unfolding events that they were unable to do anything except the one thing they were supposed to do that day, which was teach.


Martha Crenshaw, a senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, has written extensively on the issue of political terrorism; her first article, "The Concept of Revolutionary Terrorism," was published in the Journal of Conflict Resolution in 1972. (Image credit: L.A. Cicero)


Zegart led a crisis simulation for POLI SCI 114S: International Security in a Changing World. (Image credit: Rod Searcey)

When they showed up to their respective classrooms – at the time, Crenshaw was at Wesleyan University teaching a course on decision making and foreign policy; Zegart at UCLA – they found them packed. There were more students in the lecture hall for Crenshaw’s course than were enrolled.

Students – horrified and trying to make sense of what was happening – sought clarity and comfort from their teachers, who just happened to be experts on the issues that would come to define the next two decades of U.S. domestic and foreign policy.

“A key part of understanding history is empathy, and thinking about what it was like to live through something rather than only looking at an event through the distance of time. 9/11 looks inevitable in hindsight, but it was unimaginable on September 10.” —Amy Zegart Senior Fellow, Freeman Spogli Institute and Hoover Institution

“When something that shocking happens, our natural inclination is to make sense of what’s going on together, right now,” said Zegart, who is a leading scholar on national security and the Central Intelligence Agency and is now a senior scholar at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI) and the Morris Arnold and Nona Jean Cox Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution.

Students wanted to know more about the terms and names they were hearing for the first time that day, like jihadism and the Taliban. Over the months that followed came more complex challenges to explain: the global war on terror, torture, rendition, Guantanamo Bay, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

This is the world that today’s students have inherited. Even the current generation’s media, as Zegart’s research has shown, has become increasingly saturated with a proliferation of “spytainment” : movies and TV shows depicting, often inaccurately, the clandestine world of intelligence and counterterrorism operations.

Like Rice, Crenshaw has also found herself having to explain that none of this was normal before 9/11.

“I have to go back and say, ‘All this wasn’t always here before 9/11.’ I have to trace the trajectory of policy changes,” said Crenshaw, a senior fellow at FSI and the Center for International Security and Cooperation.

Shifts in emotion

In the first decade after the attacks, Zegart said her students were incredibly emotional about 9/11 and its aftermath, including the expansion of U.S. conflict abroad. A few years after the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq broke out, Zegart remembers one of her students, a recently returned veteran, telling her that he was taking her intelligence class because he wanted to learn more about why he had gone to Iraq, and what his friend who had deployed with him had died fighting for.

presentation on 11th september

In 2018, Stanford scholars Amy Zegart and Condoleezza Rice co-taught the course POLECON 584: Managing Global Political Risk. (Image credit: Rod Searcey)

“It was a really raw, personal experience for students studying foreign policy in the first decade after 9/11 because they were living with war and uncertainty,” said Zegart. She had to push them be more analytical and objective in their class discussions of what a post 9/11 world entailed.

As the years progressed, though, 9/11 increasingly became less personal for the next generation of students. Perceptions began to shift. So much so that Zegart now finds herself in the opposite predicament: How to insert those feelings back in .

“Because they didn’t live through it, they look at it distantly and dispassionately,” Zegart said. “The challenge is, how do you help students better understand the context in which decisions were made and the raw emotion that unavoidably affects how we perceive threats and how we deal with policy responses.”

Teaching the emotions of the day

To evoke a visceral response to 9/11, Zegart shows a 4-minute montage of news clips. Students get a sense of how the day unfolded, from the breaking reports of the first tower being struck to a reporter’s on-air reaction as the second plane crashes live into the remaining tower. There are also scenes of people fleeing lower Manhattan amid dust, smoke and debris.

“You just cannot convey that day in a normal lecture or a book,” Zegart said. The video is effective; her students are often left with a sense of the sadness, horror and anguish that defined 9/11.

Zegart then asks her students to imagine they are policymakers at the White House and have to decide what to do next. “We often teach U.S. foreign policymaking as a sterile, Spock-like process where people weigh the pros and cons of options and make dispassionate decisions,” Zegart said. “But human emotion and searing national experiences are important and hard to convey. A key part of understanding history is empathy, and thinking about what it was like to live through something rather than only looking at an event through the distance of time. 9/11 looks inevitable in hindsight, but it was unimaginable on September 10.”

Through the exercise, students get a sense of the urgency that policymakers, like Rice, have to grapple with while making decisions amid a national emergency.

“In retrospect, everything looks quite orderly,” said Rice, who co-taught a class on global risk with Zegart at the Graduate School Business. “It looks like ‘of course that decision led to that decision.’ Political scientists are always talking about the options that were put before the president. That’s not how crisis decision making unfolds. You are dealing with really incomplete information, you are dealing with the need to act now, and you are often reacting from instinct because you don’t have time to think through things.”

Viewing the attacks from all sides

When political scientist Lisa Blaydes teaches 9/11 to her students, she tries to give an international perspective of the issues, particularly on how grievances can arise – both legitimately or falsely constructed – in countries abroad and how that can lead to extremism and political violence. For example, in her course Political Science 149: Middle Eastern Politics , several classes are dedicated to examining anti-American attitudes in the Islamic world and the conditions under which individuals become radicalized.

“I try to make sure that students understand both the individual motivations associated with the radicalization of political thought as well as the global context that empowers radicalized individuals to undertake violent action,” said Blaydes, a professor of political science in the School of Humanities and Sciences and a senior fellow at FSI. She asks students to read Lawrence Wright’s book The Looming Tower , which picks up on themes Blaydes covers in the course, particularly those dealing with how authoritarian regimes in the Arab world provided a backdrop for the rise of al-Qaida.

presentation on 11th september

Lisa Blaydes, a professor of political science and a senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, focuses on comparative politics and politics of the Middle East. (Image credit: Courtesy Lisa Blaydes)

In recent years, Blaydes has found her students showing an increased interest in learning more about radical groups like ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) and how they have terrorized communities across the Middle East. “While Sept. 11 made terrorism a salient threat for Americans living in U.S. cities, both terrorism and state-sponsored violence are unfortunately a trauma shared by people around the world,” she said.

Similarly, Crenshaw said, it is important to explain to students the conditions that lead to such extremist views. But, she added, explaining motives should not be mistaken as justifying them. “We are not trying to excuse it; we are trying to understand why something happened,” she said.

With her students, Crenshaw has also looked at how terrorism has been used across history. In the aftermath of 9/11, terrorism almost exclusively became associated with a particular ideology and religion. But there are other examples throughout history of how it has been used as a form of political violence, she said.

“As an instructor, one of my goals was always to show students that 9/11 was something extraordinary, but there are other instances of terrorism and it can be associated with any ideology,” Crenshaw said.

Given its elasticity, terrorism is a confusing and contentious term with no standard definition, Crenshaw said . Thus, as both the term and the acts associated with terrorism have evolved over the past two decades, so has her teaching of it. “The phenomenon that you are trying to teach is changing over time as well, so it’s really a very dynamic subject requiring constant adjustment to take into account the vast outpouring of writing on terrorism but changing terrorism and counterterrorism as well,” she said.

In addition to situating 9/11 against a global and historical backdrop, teaching the attacks also requires a critical look at the domestic challenges that led up to it, including the shortcomings in U.S. intelligence. Zegart assigns students an article she wrote about the failures within the U.S. intelligence communities to adapt to the threat of terrorism, as well as a critique against her piece. “There’s no one perfect view, and if students can realize that their professor is part of an argument and people can disagree, that’s really important,” she said.

Zegart and Crenshaw have also assigned students the 9/11 Commission Report , the official report of the events that led up to the attacks and detailed account of the circumstances surrounding it.

‘Still hard’

Even though 20 years have passed since 9/11, it does not mean that teaching about the attacks has gotten easier.

“I still have a hard time,” Zegart said. “For years, my screensaver was a picture of the first plane hitting the World Trade Center. It was important to me not to forget. I’ve spent my career researching why our intelligence agencies failed to stop 9/11 and how they can better meet threats in the future. I think about that day every day.”

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9/11 Timeline

By: Editors

Updated: September 11, 2023 | Original: June 21, 2011

9/11 Attacks (September 11, 2001)

On September 11, 2001 —a clear, sunny, late summer day—al Qaeda terrorists aboard three hijacked passenger planes carried out coordinated suicide attacks against the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. , killing everyone on board the planes and nearly 3,000 people on the ground. A fourth plane crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, killing all on board, after passengers and crew attempted to wrest control from the hijackers.

Below is a chronology of the events of 9/11 as they unfolded. All times are Eastern Daylight Time (EDT).

• 7:59 am – American Airlines Flight 11, a Boeing 767 with 92 people aboard, takes off from Boston’s Logan International Airport en route to Los Angeles.

• 8:14 am – United Airlines Flight 175, a Boeing 767 with 65 people aboard, takes off from Boston; it is also headed to Los Angeles.

• 8:19 am – Flight attendants aboard Flight 11 alert ground personnel that the plane has been hijacked; American Airlines notifies the FBI .

• 8:20 am – American Airlines Flight 77 takes off from Dulles International Airport outside of Washington, D.C. The Boeing 757 is headed to Los Angeles with 64 people aboard.

• 8:24 am – Hijacker Mohammed Atta makes the first of two accidental transmissions from Flight 11 to ground control (apparently in an attempt to communicate with the plane’s cabin).

• 8:40 am – Air traffic controllers at The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) alert North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD)’s Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS) about the suspected hijacking of Flight 11. In response, NEADS located at Cape Cod’s Otis Air National Guard Base to locate and tail Flight 11; they are not yet in the air when Flight 11 crashes into the North Tower.

• 8:40 am – Air traffic controllers at The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) alert North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD)’s Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS) about the suspected hijacking of Flight 11. In response, NEADS scrambles two fighter planes located at Cape Cod’s Otis Air National Guard Base to locate and tail Flight 11; they are not yet in the air when Flight 11 crashes into the North Tower.

• 8:41 am – United Airlines Flight 93 , a Boeing 757 with 44 people aboard, takes off from Newark International Airport en route to San Francisco . It had been scheduled to depart at 8:00 am, around the time of the other hijacked flights.

• 8:46 am – Mohammed Atta and the other hijackers aboard American Airlines Flight 11 crash the plane into floors 93-99 of the North Tower of the World Trade Center , killing everyone on board and hundreds inside the building.

Photos: The World Trade Center

Photos: FDNY Firefighters during the 9/11 attacks

• 8:47 am – Within seconds, NYPD and FDNY forces dispatch units to the World Trade Center, while Port Authority Police Department officers on site begin immediate evacuation of the North Tower.

• 8:50 am – White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card alerts President George W. Bush that a plane has hit the World Trade Center; the president is visiting an elementary school in Sarasota, Florida at the time.

• 9:02 am – After initially instructing tenants of the WTC’s South Tower to remain in the building, Port Authority officials broadcast orders to evacuate both towers via the public address system; an estimated 10,000 to 14,000 people are already in the process of evacuating.

• 9:03 am – Hijackers crash United Airlines Flight 175 into floors 75-85 of the WTC’s South Tower, killing everyone on board and hundreds inside the building

• 9:08 am – The FAA bans all takeoffs of flights going to New York City or through the airspace around the city.

• 9:21 am – The Port Authority closes all bridges and tunnels in the New York City area.

• 9:24 am – The FAA notified NEADS of the suspected hijacking of Flight 77 after some passengers and crew aboard are able to alert family members on the ground.

• 9:31 am – Speaking from Florida, President Bush calls the events in New York City an “apparent terrorist attack on our country.”

• 9:37 am – Hijackers aboard Flight 77 crash the plane into the western façade of the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., killing 59 aboard the plane and 125 military and civilian personnel inside the building.

Photos: The Pentagon

9/11 Attacks on the Pentagon (September 11, 2001)

• 9:42 am – For the first time in history, the FAA grounds all flights over or bound for the continental United States. Over the next two-and-a-half hours, some 3,300 commercial flights and 1,200 private planes are guided to land at airports in Canada and the United States.

• 9:45 am – Amid escalating rumors of other attacks, the White House and U.S. Capitol building are evacuated (along with numerous other high-profile buildings, landmarks and public spaces).

• 9:59 am – The South Tower of the World Trade Center collapses.

• 10:07 am – After passengers and crew members aboard the hijacked Flight 93 contact friends and family and learn about the attacks in New York and Washington, they mount an attempt to retake the plane. In response, hijackers deliberately crash the plane into a field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania , killing all 40 passengers and crew aboard.

Photos: Flight 93

9/11 Attacks: Flight 93 photos (September 11, 2001)

• 10:28 am – The World Trade Center’s North Tower collapses, 102 minutes after being struck by Flight 11.

• 11 am – Mayor Rudolph Giuliani calls for the evacuation of Lower Manhattan south of Canal Street, including more than 1 million residents, workers and tourists, as efforts continue throughout the afternoon to search for survivors at the WTC site.

• 1 pm – At Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana , President Bush announces that U.S. military forces are on high alert worldwide.

• 2:51 pm – The U.S. Navy dispatches missile destroyers to New York and Washington, D.C.

• 5:20 pm – The 47-story Seven World Trade Center collapses after burning for hours; the building had been evacuated in the morning, and there are no casualties, though the collapse forces rescue workers to flee for their lives. It is the last of the Twin Towers to fall.

• 6:58 pm – President Bush returns to the White House after stops at military bases in Louisiana and Nebraska .

• July 22, 2004: The 9/11 Commission Report is released. It includes classified documents, airport security footage of the hijackers, and cockpit voice recordings from United Airlines Flight 93. The report claims all 19 hijackers were members of al Qaeda.

• October 17, 2006: A federal judge rejects New York City’s motion to dismiss lawsuits from first responders who are requesting health payments.

• January 2, 2011: The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010 is signed into law by President Barack Obama . It renews and expands the Victim Compensation Fund.

• May 2, 2011: Osama bin Laden is killed by U.S. Navy Seals.

• September 11, 2011: The World Trade Center Memorial opens to the public on the 10th anniversary of the attacks.

• May 10, 2014: The unidentified remains of people killed in New York City on 9/11 are returned to the World Trade Center Site.

• May 15, 2014: The National September 11 Memorial & Museum is dedicated in lower Manhattan.

• November 3, 2014: One World Trade Center officially opens on the site of the Twin Towers

• July 29, 2019: President Donald Trump signs $10 billion legislation authorizing support for the Victims Compensation Fund through 2092.

• August 30, 2019: A U.S. military court judge in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba sets a trial date of January 11, 2021 for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the other four men charged with plotting the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001; the trial was later postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

• July 31, 2022: Ayman al-Zawahiri, a key planner of the attacks and the leader of al Qaeda following bin Laden's death, is killed in a U.S. drone strike in Kabul, Afghanistan. 

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HISTORY Vault: 9/11 Documentaries

Explore this collection of extraordinary documentary films about one of the most challenging days in U.S. history.

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What Happened on 9/11?, Part I

  • Grades 6 to 12
  • Lesson Duration: One Class Period
  • Theme: Events of 9/11

Essential Question: What happened on 9/11?

Learning Goals

Students will assess their prior knowledge of the 9/11 attacks.

Students will be introduced to a timeline of key events on the morning of 9/11.

Students will investigate a variety of primary source materials related to the 9/11 attacks.

Students will understand how first-person accounts and multiple perspectives deepen historical study.

al-Qaeda: This international Islamist extremist terrorist network is responsible for the 9/11 attacks. Al-Qaeda is responsible for multiple terrorist attacks since its founding in the 1980s by Osama bin Laden and others who were involved in the war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. Their aim has been to overthrow governments in the Middle East, and elsewhere in the Muslim world, which do not strictly enforce a narrow, fundamentalist version of Islam.

Hijack: This means to take control by force.

1.  Tell students that today they’ll be investigating the question, “What happened on 9/11?”  

2.  Write the essential question (“What happened on 9/11?”) on the board and draw a T-chart with three columns. Label the columns “Things I know,” “Things I think I know,” and “Things I want to know.” Explain that the first category is for anything students are absolutely sure of, the second is for things they aren’t completely sure of, and the last is for things they are curious about.

3.  Take student answers for 5–10 minutes, sorting them into the appropriate categories. If a student answers outside of the scope of the essential question (referencing something that came before or after 9/11), keep track of those on a separate piece of paper. Lessons in our other modules may be helpful in addressing some of the topics students raise.

4.  Show students this short film, which outlines the key events of the morning of 9/11. Students should listen closely and make a note of anything that confirms or conflicts with the list they just made.

Video: The Events of 9/11

5.  Ask students to identify any questions from the list that were answered by the film and discuss the answers. Star any points that were not addressed in the film.

6.  Divide students into small groups and ask them to address the points that were not covered in the film using the 9/11 Memorial & Museum Interactive Attack Timeline . 

7.  Conclude by having students share the additional information they learned, referencing where they found it in the timeline and what type of resource it was (text, image, audio clip, video clip). 

8.  Return to the original list of observations students made and ask them to articulate what new information they learned by going through this process.

9.  Tell students that in the next lesson, they’ll continue learning about 9/11 by exploring the experiences of those who were actually there.

What Happened on 9/11?, Part II

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Remembering September 11

Learn how this historic day in 2001 changed the lives of those living in the United States—and around the world.

On September 11, 2001, people in New York City woke up to a beautiful late summer day. It was a Tuesday, and people were preparing for another day at work and school.

Thousands of people headed for the World Trade Center, a complex of seven buildings that included a pair of skyscrapers known as the twin towers. Each tower had 110 stories and stood about 1,360 feet high. The tallest buildings in New York City at the time, the twin towers rose above the city’s downtown skyline. Nobody there knew that in just a few hours, both buildings would fall.

A shocking event

People who live in New York are used to seeing and hearing airplanes flying overhead. But on the morning of September 11, people stopped on the streets and looked up. The sound of an approaching airplane was too loud, and the plane seemed to be flying too low. To the horror of people watching below, the airplane flew straight into one of the twin towers of the World Trade Center. 

American Airlines Flight 11 hit the north tower at 8:46 a.m. The impact of the crash tore a hole that stretched from the 93rd to 99th floors of the building. Smoke and flames poured out of the tower. Many people thought they had just seen a terrible accident. But 17 minutes later, a second plane flew into another one of the World Trade Center buildings—this time into the south tower. 

United Airlines Flight 175 crashed into the 77th through 85th floors of the south tower at 9:03 a.m. Some cell phone and TV station cameras caught the second attack on film. The footage was played over and over again on television. Soon people knew that hijackers—individuals who capture an aircraft, ship, or vehicle by force—had taken over the planes. A group of men had taken control of the cockpit of each airplane and flown them into the buildings on purpose.

The attack continues

The United States was under attack. About half an hour after the second tower was struck in New York City, hijackers crashed a third airplane. American Airlines Flight 77 hit the west side of the Pentagon, a five-sided concrete building that serves as headquarters for the U.S. Department of Defense, in Arlington, Virginia , just outside Washington, D.C. The plane’s fuel tanks exploded, and two giant fireballs blasted into the air.

The U.S. government ordered all airplanes flying over the country to land as soon as possible. But it was too late for United Airlines Flight 93. Hijackers had already taken control of this fourth aircraft. They were flying the plane toward Washington, D.C.

Passengers and crew members on the plane called loved ones, who told them about the other attacks in New York and Virginia. People on Flight 93 thought their aircraft would be used as a weapon, too. So they fought the hijackers to try to get control of the plane. In a phone call recorded as passengers and crew began to fight back, passenger Todd Beamer was heard saying, “Are you ready? OK, let’s roll.”

Flight 93 eventually crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania . The crash site was close to the hijackers’ likely target, a government building in Washington, D.C.

The rescue begins

Back in New York City, dark smoke poured from the twin towers. People rushed to escape the area, which later became known as ground zero. First responders—including police officers, firefighters, and paramedics—arrived within minutes of the first attack on the World Trade Center. They rushed into both towers to help people trapped inside, even though it would be an extremely difficult rescue operation. Almost all the elevators in the twin towers had stopped working. So rescuers started climbing up the stairs, but many were blocked by rubble or fire. Still, firefighters forged ahead, ignoring the danger. ( Read more about the heroes of 9/11 .)          

The towers fall

When the airplanes hit the twin towers, they caused massive damage. Concrete floors were destroyed. Steel support beams were cut in two. Floors above the crash sites started to sag downward. Meanwhile, the sprinklers in both buildings were damaged. There was nothing to stop the raging fires, which became hot enough to weaken steel. The buildings grew unstable. Then they collapsed.

The south tower fell first. Once it began to crumble, it took only 10 seconds for it to collapse. The impact caused the north tower to shake, and it, too, crumbled to the ground 29 minutes later.

First responders helped many people before the twin towers collapsed. More than 25,000 made it out of the buildings before they fell. But nearly 3,000 people—from the twin towers, the Pentagon, and the four airplanes—died in the attacks that day.

The official response

The events of September 11, 2001, shook the nation. The U.S. government had to respond. President George W. Bush led the country in a day of prayer and remembrance. Then he led the nation’s effort to find and punish the people who had caused the attacks.

A terrorist group based in Afghanistan (a country in the Middle East) called al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the 9/11 attacks. Their leader was Osama bin Laden. Al Qaeda and bin Laden considered the United States to be their enemy, which is why the hijackers used the airplanes to attack important U.S. buildings. In total, 19 hijackers took over the four planes that crashed on 9/11.

World leaders promised to help the United States punish al Qaeda and locate their leader. In October 2001, the United States and its allies started military actions in Afghanistan, searching for members of al Qaeda who worked with bin Laden to plan and carry out the 9/11 attacks. It would take nearly 10 years for these forces to locate and kill bin Laden himself, who was eventually discovered hiding in nearby Pakistan in May 2011.

Banding together

Although the 9/11 attacks took place in the United States, many people from other countries felt that a terrorist attack on such a powerful nation was a threat to peace around the world. They brought flowers to U.S. embassies and lit candles to honor the victims. They gathered to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner.” One French newspaper showed its support with the front-page headline “Nous sommes tous Américains,” meaning: “We are all Americans.”

After the attacks, many people in the United States wanted to show support for their country, too. They gave flowers, candles, food, and thank-you notes to first responders. U.S. residents and organizations also donated a record-breaking $2.8 billion to help the families of victims of the attacks. By the end of 2001, more than 300 U.S. charities were raising money for the cause.

Most Americans tried to help others after the 9/11 attacks. But some people took their anger and fear out on people who looked like they came from the same Middle Eastern countries as the hijackers. Innocent people who had nothing to do with the events of 9/11 were attacked and not treated fairly.    

20 years later

A lot has changed since September 11, 2001. To prevent similar terrorist attacks from happening in the country, the United States government created the Department of Homeland Security in 2002. The organization is responsible for border security, immigrations and customs, and disaster relief and prevention. But they also keep a close watch over suspected terrorist groups and send warnings if they think the country and its people are in danger. That way, the government can protect them.

Air travel became stricter after 9/11. Before the attacks, private security companies performed all airport screenings. After September 11, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was created to give the federal government direct responsibility for all airport screenings. In 2002, the TSA began using explosive detection systems nationwide to screen all bags for explosives. They also installed more advanced technologies, such as the full-body scanner, to ensure travelers weren’t trying to bring anything harmful on an airplane. (The hijackers used weapons they had carried onboard to gain control of the aircrafts.) Other rules—like using small containers for liquids like shampoo or removing shoes during security checks—were put in place to make sure people didn’t sneak dangerous things onboard.

The United States also entered a long war on terror abroad. In addition to sending troops to Afghanistan, Bush also sent troops to Iraq in 2003 because of rumors that the country was hiding dangerous weapons. By the time Barack Obama was elected president in 2008, some 4,500 American soldiers had died in Afghanistan and Iraq, with many thousands more wounded.

Many Americans felt the loss of life wasn’t worth it—bin Laden was still missing, and no weapons were ever found. But in 2011, bin Laden was finally located and killed. His death was a blow to al Qaeda and gave some U.S. citizens hope that progress was being made in the fight against terrorism.

By the end of 2011, Obama had withdrawn all combat troops from Iraq. But U.S. troops were still fighting in Afghanistan by the end of his second term in 2017. And another terrorist group, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), threatened the region throughout Obama’s presidency and into Donald Trump ’s single term as president, too.

During Trump’s term in office, he announced the removal of all troops from Afghanistan by May 1, 2021. Trump’s successor, Joe Biden , delayed the removal, announcing that the United States would be removing all troops from Afghanistan by August 31 instead, just before the 20-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

Honoring the victims 

Memorials now stand to pay tribute to those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001. The 9/11 Memorial and Museum in New York City contains pools set within each area where the twin towers stood; the names of all the 9/11 victims from each tower are inscribed on bronze panels. At the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial, each of the 184 benches is dedicated to a victim of the Virginia attack. And the Tower of Voices at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Pennsylvania has 40 wind chimes to honor the plane’s passengers and crew members.

The attacks on September 11, 2001, shook the world and made people realize that even a powerful country like the United States could be a victim of terrorism. But the horrific event also brought Americans closer together. As U.S. senator John Kerry said at the time, “It was the worst day we have ever seen, but it brought out the best in all of us.”

Text partially adapted from the Nat Geo Kids book September 11   by Libby Romero.

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9/11 - September 11th PowerPoint Presentation

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This 32 slide 9/11 - September 11th presentation is designed for middle school students. There are pictures of smoke and flames coming out of the buildings, but no pictures of the victims in the towers or anything like that.

The presentation covers:

  • The morning of the events
  • The targets of the attacks
  • Casualties at each target
  • Who was responsible for the attacks
  • The United States' response to the attacks (there is a link to a 4:30 video of President Bush's speech that night)
  • Osama bin Laden's death
  • Examples of individual Americans responding to the attacks
  • One World Trade Center/Freedom Tower today

Both a PowerPoint and a link to download a version formatted for Google Slides are included.

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George W. Bush 9/11 Speech Primary Analysis (FREE)

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Middle school history and geography.

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september 11th

September 11th

Sep 05, 2012

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September 11th. Trevor Pultz. Introduction. September 11 th 2001 was a horrible day for all Americans. Two of the World Trade Centers (also known as the Twin Towers) were suicide attacked by Al’Qaeda In total 2,993 people, including the hijackers, died in the attacks. Secure &amp; Safe.

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  • new restrictions
  • state open government law
  • airport screening
  • airline aftermath


Presentation Transcript

September 11th Trevor Pultz

Introduction • September 11th 2001 was a horrible day for all Americans. • Two of the World Trade Centers (also known as the Twin Towers) were suicide attacked by Al’Qaeda • In total 2,993 people, including the hijackers, died in the attacks.

Secure & Safe • After September 11th, 2001 people began to heavily question air craft security as all 19 of the hijackers had gotten through security managed to make it through the checkpoints and security. It turns out that one airline has already been on probation in May 2000 for hiring security and employee’s with criminal backgrounds.

Transportation Security Administration (TSA) • “Before September 11, 2001, airport screening was provided by private companies which were contracted with the airline or airport. In November 2001, the Transportation Security Administration was introduced to handle screening at all US airports. They installed bulletproof and locked cockpit doors. Private companies still operate screening, but they must be all TSA approved. Argenbright Security, a company that provided security for Newark and Washington Dulles, had problems before in May 2000, because they hired 1,300 untrained security guards, including several dozen with criminal records , for Philadelphia International Airport. The company, which was on probation at the time of the attack, had its probation extended to October 2005” - "Airport Security Repercussions due to the September 11th Attacks." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Web. <>.

Weapon Restrictions • Due to the appearance of a supposed Box-cutter knife used during the 9/11 hijacking. No knives of any kind are permitted. • And even the use of scissors is questioned.

New Restrictions • The 2001 terrorist attacks led every state but South Dakota to restrict access to information deemed critical to homeland security — from architectural blueprints to emergency evacuation routes, according to a comprehensive, state-by-state study of post-9/11 changes to open-government laws. • Wary of terrorists, state lawmakers closed government meetings previously open to the public, denied residents access to disaster-response plans and concealed documents on mass-transit systems, energy companies and research laboratories, according to the findings. • Nationwide, states have enacted scores of restrictions since Sept. 11, 2001, according to the congressionally funded study, “State Open Government Law and Practice in a Post 9/11 World,” formally released Thursday (Nov. 15) by the Center for Terrorism Law based at St. Mary’s University in Texas. Gramlich, John. "States clammed up after 9/11." The Pew Charitable Trusts, Web. 20 Oct 2009. <>.

Airline Aftermath • The Inspector General testified at a joint hearing of the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs and the Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, Restructuring, and the District of Columbia, regarding the status of airline security since September 11. The IG said that the Federal Aviation Administration and the Department have taken steps to tighten security. OIG observations across the country confirm that security is noticeably tighter now than before September 11. "Status of Airline Security After September 11th, 2001." Office of Inspector General. November 14th, 2001. OIG, Web. 21 Oct 2009. <>.

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