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9/11 for kids. September 11th is a day to honor those who died in the attacks on the World Trade Center. Patriot Day is another name for it. The attack was the worst terrorist attack there had ever been on American soil.

Parents and teachers will remember 9/11 clearly. To help kids understand why Patriot Day is important, we’re going to consider 10 facts about Patriot Day, or 9/11.

What was the World Trade Center?

world trade center before 9/11 attacks

The World Trade Center was the name for seven buildings in New York, including Twin Towers. The towers were the tallest buildings in New York. They were even the tallest buildings in the world when first built in 1973.

The World Trade Center was used for a lot of different reasons. Mainly, they were business offices, but there was also a shopping complex on the lower floors and even a hotel. There was also a viewing deck, and tourists came from all over the world to see the Twin Towers.

Around 35,000 people worked in the World Trade Center. There were 17,000 people in the Twin Towers when the 9/11 attacks happened.

What happened on September 11, 2001?

On September 11th, 2001, a terrorist group called Al Qaeda attacked the United States. They flew two planes into the Twin Towers in New York City and one into The Pentagon, near Washington D.C. There was also another plane, it crashed near Pennsylvania.

Almost three thousand people lost their lives.

Events of 9/11 for Kids

It can be difficult to understand what happened on 9/11 for kids. The following facts will make it easier to understand.

What happened on 9/11?

  1. Attackers flew two planes into the Twin Towers, and one plane into the Pentagon. There was another plane, but it crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The first crash happened at 8:46 AM. The fourth, and last, plane crashed at 10:03 AM.
  2. The first plane crashed into the north tower. About 19 minutes elapsed before the second plane flew into the south tower. Half an hour later, a plane crashed into the Pentagon. A fourth plane crashed in Pennsylvania another half an hour afterward.
  3. The towers collapsed because of heat from the fire. The south tower collapsed approximately an hour after impact. The north tower followed almost half an hour later.

What happened after 9/11?

  1. Lots of people came from all over the world to help after 9/11. The site where the Twin Towers once stood became known as Ground Zero. On the 10th anniversary of 9/11, Ground Zero was transformed into what is now the 9/11 Memorial and museum.
  2. After the attacks President George W. Bush, said, “We will not waver; we will not falter, and we will not fail. Peace and freedom will prevail.”. Shortly after the attacks, the Department of Homeland Security was formed and the Patriot Act was passed. Both aim to fight terrorism.
  3. Airport security increased a lot after 9/11. Baggage has been screened more thoroughly and there are now federal air marshals on a lot of US flights.
  4. On December 18th, 2001, US Congress designated 9/11 as Patriot Day. Patriot Day is an annually recognized day of service and remembrance. We fly our American flag at half mast and observe a moment of silence at 8:46 AM.

Why did the 9/11 Terrorists Attack?

The terrorist attacks were carried out by Al Qaeda, an Islamist terrorist group formed by Osama Bin Laden. The men who hijacked the planes intended to upset, hurt, and kill a lot of people. They also hoped to weaken the position of the United States so that they could become more powerful.

While their attacks caused significant amounts of pain across America, they were unsuccessful in their attempts to beat America.

Bin Laden was found and killed in 2011. To ensure that the country is safer for everyone, we now have a Department of Homeland Security to keep us safe from future terrorist attacks or threats.

Remember 9/11 This Patriot Day

9/11 for kids

9/11 united Americans and reminded us that freedom is precious. For all of the faults and divisions in America, we can unite when threatened.

We are a people of compassion. A people striving to do better than the previous generation. A people with faults but trying to fix them.

Your students need to hear this. They need to believe this. They need to live this.

Lessons Learned on 9/11 for Kids

It’s easy to show the CNN videos of planes crashing into the towers of the World Trade Center and think you are teaching 9/11. We live in a world where dramatic video is manufactured so much that it’s not shocking. Planes crashing is the event.

The lesson is the story of what happened afterward and what was happening during. Within moments of the crash, first responders were arriving at the scene.

Courage, Bravery, and Unity

Average people working in the tower went into action within seconds of the plane crashing into the South Tower. One of these workers was, Rick Rescorla.

Rick Rescorla

Rescorla was a Vietnam Veteran. He was the safety officer in the tower. Rescorla safely escorted more than 2,700 people from the burning and collapsing building using a bullhorn. Survivors reported that he sang songs in the stairwell to keep everyone calm as they exited the building.

But rescuing 2,700 people was not enough. Rescorla was last seen on the tenth floor, walking up the smoke-filled stairs. You see, he went back one more time to make sure everyone he could find would go home that day.

Rescorla would not go home to his family. He gave his life so that others– many strangers he never knew – could go home to be with their families that day. Your students need to hear that the DNA of Americans is putting others first. The greatest honor is of service to others, not self.

While there are literally hundreds of stories like that of Rick Rescorla, one stands out.

Todd Beamer

Todd Beamer was a salesman on Flight 93. A little after 9:00, Beamer’s flight was taken over by hijackers. Passengers on the plane began getting phone messages about the plane crash into the towers of the World Trade Center. They knew something was happening on what was normally a routine trip for most passengers.

Beamer places a call from the plane. He was patched through to his wife and described what was happening on the plane with the FBI listening in. The terrorists had murdered one passenger. With the plane veering off course and the knowledge that America was under attack, Beamer decided to act.

Joined by several passengers, Beamer’s plan was to take back control of the plane from the terrorists. The voice data recorder recorded what happened next in the cockpit. After reciting the Lord’s Prayer and the 23rd Psalms, Beamer asked, “Is everyone ready? Let’s roll!”

Pennsylvania 9/11 memorial

The passengers began their assault on the cockpit and took back control of the wayward plane. At some time during the flight, the aircraft was forced to crash in an empty field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

All the passengers lost their lives. Later, it was discovered that the plane’s intended target was the White House. Beamer and the courage of the passengers protected the single greatest beacon of freedom in the world.

Beamer’s wife, Lisa, would later write a book, “Let’s Roll! Ordinary People, Extraordinary Courage” to describe what happened. Audio tapes of the flight are in the National Archives. Students should hear them and read excerpts from the book.

They are potent reminders of how ordinary people become superhuman and how one person’s courage can ignite the courage of others to do something extraordinary. 

National Resolve

9/11 memorial

How should 9/11 be taught? Teach the story of sacrifice. 9/11 launched an unprecedented time of unity and national resolve to rid the world of evil.

Military personnel packed their bags and left their homes to protect us. The enemy mistakenly thought bringing down a building would cause a nation to implode.

It didn’t. That is the lesson of 9 /11.

For more information on 9/11 for kids, download our free PDF lesson plan.

*Excerpts of this article were taken from, Teaching 9/11, Written by Doug Carroll, Ed.D. For the full article click below.