DUTY FOR NEW GEN­ER­A­TION

School­child­ren taught to carry on ‘never for­get’ mantra af­ter 9/11

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY CHRISTO­PHER VONDRACEK

Buses car­ry­ing school­child­ren still travel to a Penn­syl­va­nia field where a Boe­ing 757 crashed 18 years ago.

But un­like the first groups of chil­dren who made the jour­ney — many hav­ing watched the 9/11 at­tacks un­fold on TV — to­day’s stu­dents had not yet been born when the U.S. piv­oted into a war, color-coded ter­ror­ism warn­ings, and na­tion­wide mourning and re­mem­brance.

“Cer­tainly young chil­dren and those who were not yet born when the events of Sept. 11, 2001, took place will view this place dif­fer­ently,” said Beth Par­nicza, act­ing pub­lic in­for­ma­tion of­fi­cer for the Flight 93 Na­tional Memo­rial out­side of Shanksvill­e, Penn­syl­va­nia. “[But] schools are still vis­it­ing the memo­rial, and the park is com­mit­ted to en­gag­ing stu­dents and vis­i­tors of all ages.”

Nearly two decades since ter­ror­ist at­tacks rocked a nation and the words “never for­get” be­came a na­tional mantra, the duty of memo­ri­al­iz­ing the day falls to a new gen­er­a­tion.

Since the 2011 open­ing of the memo­rial in Man­hat­tan, more than 48 mil­lion vis­i­tors have paid their re­spects at two re­flect­ing pools, the site of the col­lapse of the World Trade Cen­ter af­ter two ter­ror­ist-hi­jacked air­lin­ers slammed into the twin tow­ers. How­ever, more than half of those vis­i­tors, 32 mil­lion, ar­rived within the first four years of the open­ing.

Les­son plans for teach­ers pre­par­ing their stu­dents for vis­its to the Na­tional Sep­tem­ber 11 Memo­rial & Mu­seum in New York ex­plore the day’s events, its reper­cus­sions and first re­spon­ders.

Kinder­gart­ners to sec­ond-graders are asked, “What do you won­der about the tow­ers?” They are told about French artist Philippe Petit, who walked on a high wire be­tween the twin tow­ers in 1974.

High school les­son plans ask stu­dents to ex­plore Afghan lit­er­a­ture and en­gage in dis­cus­sions about air­port se­cu­rity versus civil lib­er­ties.

Across the Po­tomac River from Wash­ing­ton, where 184 were killed when a jet­liner struck the west side of the Depart­ment of De­fense head­quar­ters, the benches of the Na­tional 9/11 Pen­tagon Memo­rial closed Mon­day to be­gin re­pairs to the site. The gate­way to the memo­rial will close from Nov. 16 un­til next year.

“We are aware of the im­pact that this clo­sure will have on fam­ily mem­bers and vis­i­tors to the Pen­tagon Memo­rial,” of­fi­cials said in the re­lease. “Ev­ery ef­fort has been made to de­velop a con­struc­tion plan that will en­able the work to be com­pleted in a quick and ef­fi­cient man­ner, re­duc­ing site clo­sure time.”

The re­pairs will ad­dress wa­ter dam­age and the elec­tri­cal sys­tem, in­clud­ing lights for the benches.

Congress and Pres­i­dent Trump in July ap­proved the ex­ten­sion of the James Zadroga com­pen­sa­tion fund, which pays for treat­ment of ill­nesses suf­fered by the first re­spon­ders and sur­vivors of the at­tacks.

Many res­cue and re­cov­ery work­ers de­vel­oped la­tent respirator­y and di­ges­tive ail­ments linked to toxic dust at ground zero. Other ill­nesses, in­clud­ing can­cer, have been di­ag­nosed.

Michael Barasch, a New York in­jury lawyer who has rep­re­sented thou­sands of 9/11 vic­tims, told The Wash­ing­ton Times last week that the rates of can­cers and other health is­sues linked to the toxic dust is “as­tro­nom­i­cal and fright­en­ing.”

Ac­cord­ing to the World Trade Cen­ter health pro­gram, more than 2,300 can­cer deaths have been linked to 9/11 tox­ins. More than 10,000 peo­ple also have de­vel­oped can­cer from the af­ter­math of the ter­ror­ist at­tacks.

All in all, Mr. Barasch said, an es­ti­mated 400,000 peo­ple were af­fected by 9/11.

“Sur­vivors are the for­got­ten vic­tims,” he said.

Re­search con­tin­ues into whether those ill­nesses are tied to 9/11 tox­ins. A 2018 study did not find higher than nor­mal death rates over­all among peo­ple ex­posed to the dust and smoke, but re­searchers have noted more deaths than ex­pected from brain can­cer, non-Hodgkin lym­phoma and cer­tain other dis­eases. The num­ber of sui­cides among res­cue and re­cov­ery work­ers also is unusual.

Stud­ies have sug­gested that highly ex­posed work­ers may face more prob­lems, in­clud­ing some­what higher death rates and a mod­estly higher risk of heart trou­ble, than less-ex­posed col­leagues.

More than 51,000 peo­ple have ap­plied to a vic­tims com­pen­sa­tion fund that makes pay­ments to peo­ple with ill­nesses po­ten­tially re­lated to 9/11. The fund has awarded over $5.5 bil­lion so far. There also is a push to con­fig­ure names of first re­spon­ders vic­tim­ized by the thick clouds of smoke and fires that burned for months in the rub­ble.

With grow­ing at­ten­tion to the deaths of ail­ing 9/11 res­cue, re­cov­ery and cleanup work­ers, some me­mo­ri­als else­where be­gan adding their names, The As­so­ci­ated Press re­ported. A re­mem­brance wall to them was ded­i­cated in 2011 in Nescon­set, New York.

But the trade cen­ter memo­rial has a “re­spon­si­bil­ity — es­pe­cially where it’s lo­cated, on sa­cred ground — to con­tinue to tell the story,” said John Feal, who lost part of a foot while work­ing as a de­mo­li­tion su­per­vi­sor there and later founded a char­ity that main­tains the Nescon­set memo­rial, the AP re­ported.

In ad­di­tion the names of nearly 3,000 Sept. 11 vic­tims, a half dozen stacks of stone will qui­etly salute an un­told num­ber of peo­ple who aren’t on the list.

The gran­ite slabs were in­stalled on the memo­rial plaza this spring. They rec­og­nize fire­fight­ers, po­lice and oth­ers who died or fell ill af­ter ex­po­sure to tox­ins un­leashed in the wreck­age. Of­fi­cials say names will be added as the af­ter­math of 9/11 con­tin­ues to evolve, the AP re­ported.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

PA­TRI­OTIC SPIRIT: Vis­i­tors to the Flight 93 Na­tional Memo­rial out­side Shanksvill­e, Penn­syl­va­nia, par­tic­i­pated in a sun­set memo­rial ser­vice on Mon­day as the nation pre­pares to mark the 18th an­niver­sary of the ter­ror­ist at­tacks on Sept. 11, 2001. The pas­sen­gers on the hi­jacked flight are hailed as heroes.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Gran­ite slabs on the grounds of the Na­tional Sep­tem­ber 11 Memo­rial & Mu­seum in New York rec­og­nize an ini­tially un­seen toll of the 2001 ter­ror­ist at­tacks: fire­fight­ers, po­lice and oth­ers who died or fell ill af­ter ex­po­sure to tox­ins un­leashed in the wreck­age.

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