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Moms Talk: Is Moment of Silence Best Way To Recall 9/11?

On the 11th year following the World Trade Center disaster that affects so many, a parent urges board to commemorate the occasion.

There are few among us adults for whom the date September 11 will ever be the same.

Whether or not we officially attended or were part of a moment of silence on that day, it's probably safe to say that we all paused to recall exactly what we were doing, and what came afterward, on that sunny September morning in 2011.

That is especially true in a community where some 20 residents lost their lives, by one count. And that doesn't include those who spent endless hours agonizing while they were unable to contact loved ones, those with family members or friends lost in the attack. And even those, myself included, for which a way of life changed when previously carefree east-coast-to-west-coast flight procedures inalterably stopped on that date.

So it's not surprising that this past week local mother Stacy Lettie approached the Bernards Board of Education to speak about a conversation that had been going on around town. Why had there been no moment of silence in our local schools this past September 11?

To be sure, school board members jumped to agree with Lettie when she said she was speaking on behalf of many parents in the community when she asked for an annual moment of silence in local schools or across-the-board teaching about what had happened on Sept. 11, 2001.

Addressing the Board of Education on Monday night, Lettie said the event "shapes all aspects of their lives" she said of the students. Later during the meeting, board members informally agreed they would like to see a moment of silence instituted in Bernards Schools on Sept. 11 in future years.

Even as she referred to an initiative at the William Annin Middle School to write letters to soldiers and raise money for another service project, Board Member Elaine Kusel said she agreed with remarks by many that there should be some sort of formal recognition of Sept. 11's events in Bernards Schools.

"It's an omission that we did not have a moment of silence, and it needs to be fixed," said Board Member Michael Byrne.

Lettie asked the school board to conduct a moment of silence in future years and to add teaching about the event into all classrooms even if children would be taught in a different way at different age levels.

Schools Superintendent Nick Markarian said that this year the district's Social Studies Supervisor had provided age-appropriate materials on the subject to all teachers. He said that teaching of the material was not mandated, but many did participate.

However, he said age-appropriate teaching could be added in future years.

The point was raised that most of the children in school now don't even remember 9/11. My own son, a junior, had started kindergarten a few days earlier.

Still it is a part of our history — on a local, regional, national and world level — and for that reason alone shouldn't be ignored, said others, including board member William Koch.

It was also noted that there was much activity for the tenth anniversary of the date on a nationwide and township level. In Bernards Township, the Liberty Corner Fire Company dedicated a memorial in a solemn and well-attended ceremony.

That process was emotionally exhausting for some, although necessary. Some may have wanted to catch their breath the next year.

But now it's time to both honor those in this community who gave their lives, and also to teach students about a landmark moment in history. How to best do it?

Is a moment of silence meaningful to a student who may not remember anything about that day? Or is a way to show solidarity with a tragedy that, in Basking Ridge, had an intimate impact on our community as well as the world?

What are some of the best ways to teach about the event? When I lived in Oyster Bay, the third graders each year made an annual pilgrimage to Theodore Roosevelt's grave to remember that town's most famous citizen.

What about class trips to our own memorials? Wouldn't visiting the memorial at the Liberty Corner firehouse be a vivid way to illustrate how firefighters and police, most from not too far away, saved lives and in many cases gave their own?

Should speakers from our area be invited into the school to talk about the day's events? Or is that too raw for many to even want to discuss?

At any rate, it now seems that something will be planned for next year in our school systems. And that seems like an idea whose time has come.

Let us know in the comments section below how you would like to see the local schools commemorate this event. And do you discuss 9/11 with your own children?

esther January 26, 2013 at 04:47 AM
Instead of a moment of silence- which is a synonym for prayer, why can't students create projects or do some community service or have guest speakers or ...This should be an educational opportunity. Moments of silence? How about something positive and enlightening? What about making a plan to have a large school representation at the Tunnel to Towers Run? How about having classes plant flowers or small trees or cut out ribbons to place on windows as a visible honor to those passed. Moment of silence is too passive in my opinion.

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