Today in History: 12th anniversary of the September 11 attacks

September 11th, 2013

On September 11, 2001, 19 men affiliated with Al-Qaeda hijacked four planes, crashing into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, killing upwards of 3,000 Americans and wounding thousands more. Twelve years after the devastating attacks, there are a host of teaching materials, including lesson plans, primary documents, and video documentaries compiled by the Library of Congress and the National September 11 Memorial & Museum Foundation, to teach students about the significance of the day.

On September 11, 2011, the National September 11 Memorial opened to victims’ families. The memorial, created in the footprints of the fallen One World Trade Center and Two World Trade Center, features two acre-sized waterfalls, cascading into the ground around the base of the location of the towers, inscribed with the names of the victims of the attacks. Located next to the memorial is the National September 11 Memorial Museum, which is slated to open in the next few months. The museum will feature artifacts, stories, photos, and videos designed to explore the implications of September 11. In its online collection, the National September 11 Memorial & Museum Foundation has dozens of lesson plans for each grade level teachers can use to explain the day’s events to their classes.  

Similarly, the Library of Congress has compiled a moving collection of September 11 poetry, featuring works from the general public, including students. For an overview of the September 11 attacks, your students can check out the Library of Congress’ wealth of primary sources from the day, including magazines, posters, and art.

For another perspective on the September 11 attacks, read President Bush’s Address to a Joint Session of Congress, delivered on September 20, 2001.

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