2 Generations Discuss Impact 9/11 Had On Them
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Do you remember where you were on Sept. 11, 2001?
On that devastating day Clayton Jackson, 17, was in his second week of first grade. He’s now a senior at Washburn High School in Minneapolis.
“Back in 2001 I didn’t really know what happened,” said Jackson. “I really didn’t know that much about Sept. 11th until my 7th grade year.”
Jackson said hearing stories about 9/11 and seeing images is shocking. He’s like many students his age that are just starting to understand the impact of the attacks.
“Terror threat” and “Al Qaeda” are terms Jackson grew up hearing most of his life. For him it’s normal to go through security lines at airports. He also can’t remember a time when theUnited Stateswas not at war.
“People have gotten so use to the fact that we’re in a war that they don’t pay attention to it anymore,” said Dan Forstner, Jackson’s English teacher.
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For Jackson the attacks on 9/11 are a foggy memory, but for Forstner the impact and the changes that came after are still fresh on his mind.
On 9/11, Forstner was teaching at Humboldt Middle School in St. Paul, but his thoughts were with his friends in New York where he taught for a number of years.
“I worked at a school just north of the World Trade Center,” said Forstner. “My classroom actually faced the WTC. I was there during the ‘93 bombing.”
Forstner said after the planes attacked the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, the principal at Humboldt decided to conduct school as normal. They turned off the televisions they were watching and went about their day.
At the same time, some of Forstner’s former co-workers in New York were being evacuated to Greenwich Village.
“It was the first day for Kindergarten in New York City that day,” said Forstner. “The teachers didn’t know the kids names and they’re taking them across the city. One child looked up and said, ‘look teacher the birds are on fire.’ The child was actually seeing people jumping out of the WTC.”
Another teacher he knows walked outside, looked at the World Trade Center and knew his brother was dead. He said the point of impact for one of the planes was where he worked.
“Somehow he blocked all of that out and stayed with his students,” said Forstner. “He stayed with them until the last kid was picked up.”
Forstner said as time goes on there will be more and more distance between the event and the students they teach.
“It’s hard to convey to students who know (9/11) as history and that feeling of fear,” said Forstner. “That feeling wasn’t just with that day it continued for a long time. We didn’t know what was going to happen next.”
However, Clayton does recognize 9/11 as a turning point. He said after the attacks the U.S. turned its focus to domestic threats.
“9/11 was a time when Americagot too comfortable,” said Clayton. “Someone took a shot at us, just to let us know you’re still at risk. Don’t get too comfortable.”