Each year, schools struggle with what to do on September 11. Some teachers choose to do nothing. Other educators address 9/11 as part of United States history. While many teachers hold a moment of silence in honor of the heroes and victims. As the start of the new school year and the 14th anniversary of the terror attacks are upon us, the question is at the center of discussion again.
After speaking with educators nationwide, many say 9/11 poses several challenges: It is the first week of the school year and many are still getting acquainted with their students. And this year, a new challenge: Incoming freshman weren't even born fourteen years ago so some educators say there is a lack of understanding of 9/11 and a concern for discussing such traumatic events.
So the question is: How do you teach about the worst day in modern American history fourteen years later? The majority of educators say they are looking for meaning events because it's important to do something since 9/11 will continue to influence our political, personal and societal decisions.
This year, many schools are participating in the National Anthem movement -- a simultaneous, coast to coast sing-a-long of the Star-Spangled Banner. At precisely 10:00 a.m. PST - 1:00 p.m. EST, students are being asked to sing our National Anthem coast to coast. The event brings students together -- as the world came together -- in the weeks and months following 9/11 and is sponsored by the American Public Education Foundation.
There are numerous events taking place around the country including Saint Anselm College and the Institute of Politics, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, and many more with elected officials.
"While this is not a way to "teach" about the history of 9/11, it does provide teachers with a meaningful event that celebrates citizenship," says Denise Framey, a sixth-grade teacher in New Jersey.
Many state departments of education are supporting the initiative by informing schools in their state of the free resources and details of the event.
North Dakota Superintendent of Public Instruction Kirsten Baesler, says "The timing of this "National Anthem Sing-A-Long" event is appropriate, coming as it does during a year of celebrations commemorating the 200th anniversary of the "Star-Spangled Banner. It is also being held on the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on our nation. It will help us all remember how we came together as Americans after the assaults on our "land of the free and the home of the brave."
The American Public Education Foundation is providing free, educational resources to teach the words and meaning of the National Anthem.Students, parents and teachers can learn more about the National Anthem movement by logging onto www.theapef.org. A rich and full curriculum, created by Retired Principal Maria Basilko Davis, MEd will provide lessons for Social Studies, Geography, History, Music and English teachers. Mrs. Davis's school, Duncan Elementary, located on Fort Hood, Texas, received recognition both as a Texas School of Character and as a National School of Character. She called it a "personal honor" to create these materials."
President of the American Public Education Foundation David Pickler adds, "It is with great pride that the American Public Education Foundation will provide these materials to every school in the United States for free. It will be incredible to see students - coast to coast - join together in unity."
The Star-Spangled Banner" is a poem written in 1814 by Francis Scott Key as he watched British ships bombard Fort McHenry, Maryland, during the War of 1812. The song became the National Anthem by an act of Congress in 1931. Although it has four stanzas, the most commonly sung stanza is the first one.
Educators are encouraged to go to the website, www.theapef.org to download free resources and also sign up to sing. This year's event concludes a year-long celebration commemorating the 200th birthday of the National Anthem and the foundation hopes to break the Guinness Book of World Records simultaneous sing-a-long of the National Anthem. If the record is broken, an announcement will be made on September 14, 2015 - the birthday of the National Anthem.