The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Editorials

July 2, 2014

History written for youth | Books helps children understand 9/11

JOHNSTOWN — “The challenge of history is to recover the past and introduce it to the present.”

Professor David Thelen

 

Rangers at the Flight 93 National Memorial near Shanksville have adopted a proactive approach in their quest to help youth understand the events of Sept. 11, 2001.

Park Superintendent Jeff Reinbold said many parents have sought help from the rangers in trying to interpret the events of that tragic day to their sons and daughters.

“That’s not an easy thing to explain to children,” Reinbold told our David Hurst.

The park staff, along with the University of Pittsburgh, Highmark Caring Place and The Fred Rogers Co., collaborated on a Junior Ranger book. The effort took two years to complete.

Those who worked on the 22-page tome say it is unlike any other book developed for a National Park site.

The book targets youngsters ages 6-12 and explains themes that are important to the event, such as honoring Flight 93 heroes and reflecting on the loss of lives. It accomplishes that through side notes and various activities.

The story of Flight 93 was penned by The Fred Rogers Co. and is written in a way that is easy for youngsters to understand.

“What happened is so contemporary,” Reinbold said. “Their parents remember it.”

But parents may become too emotional while at the memorial to be able to convey exactly what happened, and why, to their kids.

“Hopefully, it’s one more tool parents can use to explain this story,” park Ranger Adam Shaffer said.

The book is now available for visitors to the park, Reinbold said.

The events surrounding 9/11 can be confusing, even for adults. It’s commendable that the National Park Service has recognized an opportunity to teach younger generations about the terrorists attacks on America.

It also is worthy to note that the National Park Service enlisted help from exceptional sources to complete the book.

 

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A pedestrian bridge spanning wetlands in the Flight 93 National Memorial park is under construction.

Once complete, it will become part of a 1.7-mile path that will take visitors from the Memorial Plaza past the Flight 93’s grove of trees to the nearly-complete visitors center.

The walkway will cut through the heart of the park, Superintendent Jeff Reinbold said.

However, the trail will not be open to park visitors until the visitors center is opened next year.

The pathway is another area of the park where visitors can go to reflect upon a dark day in America’s history and to pay tribute to the brave individuals who gave up their lives to save countless others.

 

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