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West Madison second-graders feel patriotism for 9/11 anniversary

Growing up in New Jersey, Cheryl Bailey watched as World Trade Center twin towers proudly rose in the distance.

At West Madison Elementary School, Bailey now helps her second-graders to take pride in their country on the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Katella Meade and Kristina Meade sign their pledge.

“Each year, I do a small lesson on heroes, patriotism and love of our country,” Bailey said. She gives a brief, non-graphic summary of that fateful day’s events.

“I passionately feel that children need to know the history and events of the day, but, more importantly, how it made us feel as a nation to work together and help each other,” Bailey said.

Bailey grew up in Edgewater, N.J., “right on the Hudson River and had the New York landscape out my bedroom window. I also have lots of family in that area. Thank God, no one in my family was directly affected. Sadly, my hometown did lose one of their own on that day,” Bailey said.

2001 was Bailey’s first year to teach and still has the same classroom. When she went home on Sept. 11, 2001, she “realized right then what it meant to be a teacher.”

Beyond responsibility to students, Bailey realized she “was also a protector, consoler, a listening ear and sometimes a tear wiper. We as parents found it hard to explain that day to our children. I too found it difficult to explain it to seven- and eight-year-olds. But I improvised and read up on dealing with this event as a teacher.”

This summer, she visited the 9/11 memorial in New York City with her entire family. “It is beautiful and very moving,” Bailey said.

A block away next to Ladder 10 firehouse, they visited the “Tribute WTC Visitor Center.” Among its galleries, the center has personal artifacts and salvage from the towers. “As I walked in, I started to see airline tickets, shoes … and when I saw the window of the airplane that they found on the ground, I literally started sobbing. I then started shaking to my bones,” Bailey said.

West Madison second-grader Nolen Wolfe write his "I Will" pledge.

So moved, she registered at the “I Will” website (911day.org). She has invited parents, teachers and students to sign a “good deed pledge” on a classroom bulletin board, which includes photos of the 9/11 memorial.

“My pledge was to teach my second-graders about 9/11 and how we can do good deeds even now,” Bailey said.

Second-graders, Katella and Kristina Meade, who are twins, agreed on their good deed: “I will help take care of my sister.”

Nolen Wolfe’s pledge was “I will help my mom around the house.”

The West Madison second-graders were very interested in learning about the events of 9/11 and had many questions about heroes, fire fighters, and soldiers. They composed their individual “I will” statements, wrote poems about community helpers and suggested ways to help other people.

For more information, visit 911memorial.org.


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