Florida Middle School Students’ Reflections Honor 9/11 First Responders

Mrs. Roey Hilliard, a civics teacher at Southwest Middle School, felt that it was important to teach her students about the September 11 attacks to commemorate the hallmark 20th anniversary year. She believed that it was her patriotic duty. Mrs. Hilliard asked her students to write poems and letters, and draw pictures to honor our nation’s heroic first responders who put their lives on the line everyday.

Mrs. Hilliard believes that it is critical for students to learn about the events that transpired on 9/11, as those events ultimately led to the 20-year War on Terror. She taught her students about why we keep our promise to NEVER FORGET the 2,977 people that lost their lives that day—people that included heroic first responders that laid down their lives bringing others to safety as they rushed towards the danger and calamity.

To her shock, Mrs. Hilliard learned that many children born after 9/11 only knew a few details about the attacks. Some children had known nothing at all and never had an opportunity to learn about America’s darkest day. “It is so important for the next generation of children to know about 9/11”, said Mrs. Hilliard. “This country still cares about all those affected by the tragedy of 9/11. We need to bind together and remember this day.”

Mrs. Hilliard comes from a family with a long line of military service, and her family was personally affected by the tragedy of the attacks on 9/11. She was pregnant with her son at the time, and her whole family felt the effects of the devastation; her husband was working  at Kennedy Space Center that day, and her cousin Joe Mudd, a general in the U.S. Air Force, was at the Pentagon when it was attacked. 

To Mrs. Hilliard, teaching her students about the 9/11 attacks is an opportunity to teach the next generation of America’s youth of why we will NEVER FORGET. She teaches 6 different classrooms of kids who have now learned to really understand the weight and severity of what happened that day. The number one takeaway Mrs. Hilliard wants her students to have an awareness of the enormity of 9/11. She ensures that her students understand the importance of why we need to keep our promise to NEVER FORGET, even 20 years later. It’s important for the next generation to understand that 9/11 did not end on that day with so many people and first responders who have passed away from 9/11-related illnesses. “Our first responders are our heroes”, said Mrs. Hilliard. “Teaching kids about this makes us look forward to the future.”

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