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Garden City students share oral histories about 9/11 passed on from parents

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GARDEN CITY, NY – They weren’t alive 21 years ago for the life-altering events of 9/11, but this week, young schoolchildren are sharing oral histories passed on from their parents.

Middle school students in Garden City are planting flags for all the souls lost on 9/11.

“We call it Patriots Day in our schools,” said Garden City Schools Superintendent Dr. Kusum Sinha.

Sinha believes this is a time to bolster understanding.

“Even though they weren’t alive at that time, particularly in this community in Garden City, we lost 20 individuals. There were parents, aunts, uncles,” Sinha said.

“My uncle was in the second tower that was hit, and he passed away, unfortunately. We hope he didn’t suffer at all,” said 16-year-old student Liam Brennan.

Outside the high school, steel from the Twin Towers stirs emotional conversation.

“By the time my dad reached the Twin Towers, one of the towers already fell … He saw so many people just jumping,” said 15-year-old Brooke Hopkins.

Her father talked to her about feelings of helplessness.

“Specifically, one person was waving a white flag. No one could help him because he was very, very high up,” Hopkins said.

“When I asked the students to do an oral history lecture, I was just floored by the personal stories that the parents had. Remembered the day like it was yesterday. It was just such an impactful day in world history,” said the social studies teacher. Michele De Collibus.

The students say they have no personal connection to other life-altering events, like the attack on Pearl Harbor or JFK’s assassination. This is their generation’s way of remembering 9/11.

“Some of the students talk about the memorial here being surreal because it’s an actual artifact from that day, and it keeps it very real and present in their lives,” said social studies coordinator Jeannette Balantic.

Lauren Marino’s dad was NYPD on the scene.

“It was so stressful. My dad said the way that the community came together was extremely touching,” Marino said.

Madeline Mitchell learned her family was stranded in Newfoundland.

“When they eventually got home, they were all, like, super happy,” Mitchell said.

The survival of Brooke Hopkins’ father brought tears of joy.

“My mom and grandpa fell to the ground crying hysterically,” Hopkins said.

Valuable lessons of history, loss and hope.

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