CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wis. (WEAU) - Memories of the attacks at the World Trade Center in 2001 were shared throughout the country Wednesday, but a growing number of people were too young to remember, or not even born yet.
Juniors at Chippewa Falls High School said they have very few memories of Sept. 11 and didn't understand what it all meant at age four, but now, they've come to appreciate how important that day was.
Chi Hi junior Emily Shilts, said as kindergartener, Sept. 11, 2001, isn't one that stands out like it does for millions of others in the world.
“I knew people got hurt, but I didn't quite understand it,” Shilts said.
For her current teacher, John Kinville, the day lent much more vivid memories, hearing about it on the radio while on his way to pick up allergy medicine.
“When they came on and said that a second tower had been hit by a second plane, that's when i realized that something had happened,” Kinville said.
Five days after the two planes brought down the World Trade Center towers, Kinville, then a junior at UW Eau Claire and Shilts showed a sign of patriotism together in Chippewa Falls, without even knowing it.
“They had the (hundreds of) people spelling out U.S.A. (at the Northern Wisconsin State Fairgrounds). “I was in the letter ‘S.’
“I was an ‘A,’” Shilts said.
Kinville said he shares his experience with students every year on the anniversary, but theirs’ have changed.
“As time has moved on and of course the students are younger and younger when Sept. 11 happened, the memories change. Now it's a matter of, 'I think I remember my elementary school teacher turning on the TV,” Kinville said.
“It's scary to think that something like that happened during my lifetime, even if I don't remember it,” Chi Hi junior Elaina Belland, who was also four then, said.
“I knew that it wasn't a good thing because everyone around me was really sad. So I didn't really know what to do.”
“Being able to experience or live through something provides a sense of relevance that's different than just reading about it in a book,” Kinville said.
“You can see their emotions even if they're just talking about it, even though it happened so long ago,” Shilts said.
“Sometimes it takes a tragedy, unfortunately to show us that we are all in this together, that we are all Americans and that it is all about us moving forward,” Kinville said.
At Eau Claire Memorial High School, the events are covered in U.S. History for ninth grade, but not necessarily on the anniversary. Social studies department chair Jim Kasmarek said teachers did talk about it Wednesday but some didn't fit into the curriculum in Sept. He said because more students have no memories of it, it’s treated like more of a historical event, like Pearl Harbor.