A generation of children who were not alive to experience the events of Sept. 11, 2001, are learning more about a piece of history that gripped a nation.

Sunday marks the 10th anniversary the nation was rocked to the core by terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, as well as the loss of an airliner and its passengers in Pennsylvania. 

While New York City firefighters and police officers are thousands of miles away, kindergarten through sixth-grade students at Arizona Charter Academy in Surprise honored the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks by creating cards and letters for a number of Surprise’s first responders.

On Friday, the students whose cards and letters expressed gratitude and what Sept. 11, 2001, means to them were able to hop in a van and deliver their creations to Surprise fire and police officials. In return, the kids received tours of the fire houses and police stations and also snagged plastic fire helmets and sticker badges.

An all-school assembly also took place Friday, honoring those lost on 9/11. Students have also spent part of the past week watching videos and discussing the impact of 9/11 to better understand the nation’s history, said Principal Heather Henderson.

Third-graders in Jordan Loring’s classroom wrote about how thankful they were that New York City firefighters were able to save thousands of lives by responding to the Twin Towers so quickly. Though Chevon Roberts was born after 9/11, he said the events are still emotional.

“Thank you for saving America. I’m glad we got Osama bin Laden. He was a very bad man,” Chevon wrote in part to the Surprise firefighters. “The events of 9/11 almost made me and my friends cry. I’ve learned important lessons from the firefighters about working hard and never giving up.”

Third-grader Amy Contreras also shared excerpts of her letter, explaining her anger toward terrorists who were responsible for killing thousands of people.

“Thank you for saving all those people. I feel bad for the ones that died at the World Trade Center and Pentagon,” Amy wrote. “I feel sorry that the terrorists weren’t good people. I hope Al-Qaeda doesn’t do anything like this again in other places.”

Meantime, third-grader Romeo Gomez said he was thankful for the firefighters’ heroism.

“Thank you for keeping America safe and fighting the terrorists,” Romeo wrote. “You put your life on the line to save America.”

Second-graders in Vanessa Shrum’s classroom also shared their thoughts about 9/11.

“I learned that many people died on Sept. 11, but that some brave people helped stop the terrorists,” said Miguel Rosas, explaining how United Airlines Flight 93 was hijacked by four terrorists that subsequently crashed into a field in Stonycreek Township, Pa., during an attempt by some passengers to regain control. “I made a card to show how I feel about them and thank them for their service.”

Zach Colick can be reached at 623-876-2522 or zcolick@yourwestvalley.com.

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