KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Students at Bearden Middle School got an important history lesson Friday morning, 20 years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City, Washington D.C., and Pennsylvania. None of the students in K-12 today were alive when the terrorist attacks happened in 2001.
“We do have to honor the people who sacrificed and are still sacrificing, and we cannot allow this to happen again,” said Stephen Shedden, a retired New York City Police Department lieutenant who is now dean of students at the middle school.
Records show 71 NYPD officers died on Sept. 11, 2001. Shedden happened to be on vacation in Florida at the time of the attack and said he struggles with survivor’s guilt.
“You ask yourself why? Why am I spared? What’s my greater purpose in life?” he said.
For more than a decade he has been pushing to bring back 9/11 studies as part of the curriculum in Tennessee. That effort is how he says he transformed that survivor’s guilt into a sense of meaning. Shedden is working with state Rep. Jason Zachary who is sponsoring Senate Bill 0156 that provides age-appropriate instruction to K through 12 on the events of 9/11.
“All we are asking for is 9 minutes and 11 seconds of education one time a year on 9/11 or the day before if 9/11 falls on a weekend,” said Shedden. “It’s something, that if anything, is going to unite us in a time when we have all this discord.”
The bill introduced in January is still in a subcommittee of the Senate Education Committee. Shedden says he will keep fighting to educate the next generation, so it is never forgotten.
“When you go home tonight go to your parents, go to your grandparents, and ask them about their memories about 9/11 and you may be surprised by the answers that you get,” he said.
Shedden is also asking Tennessee residents to call their state senators and encourage the passage of the bill.