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Mobile 9/11 Exhibit’s Visit Helps Next Generation Learn Important Lessons

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Students from Mount Kisco Elementary School welcomed the Tunnel to Towers Foundation’s 9/11 NEVER FORGET mobile exhibit to the village last Thursday morning.

Ever since the brother of Jason Wein’s brother-in-law was killed working in the upper floors of the World Trade Center on 9/11, Wein has sought to inspire his Mount Kisco Elementary students about the day.

He tells the fourth-graders in his class how his family has a 9/11 brothers dinner each year to remember their loss without getting into some of the more horrific details on one of the worst days in American history.

Some children have a very cursory idea of what happened on Sept. 11, 2001, while others have misconceptions.

“I tell them my personal story, I was teaching first grade at the time and what my personal recollection was in sort of an age-appropriate way,” Wein said. “We talk about how it’s different than what happens in a movie when you see the explosions.”

Last Thursday morning, he and his class along with many of the other classes at the school lined the street leading to the village’s Green Street firehouse to welcome the traveling exhibit Tunnel to Towers Foundation’s 9/11 NEVER FORGET Mobile Exhibit to the village.

For eight hours on Saturday and Sunday and again this afternoon, the general public was able to view the exhibit inside an 83-foot trailer, comprised of artifacts from the World Trade Center and Ground Zero.

Last Friday and on Monday morning eighth- and 11th-graders from Fox Lane Middle School and Fox Lane High School were taken to see the exhibit, with talks led by former New York City firefighters who responded to the Trade Center 22 years ago. For today’s students, who were not yet born when 9/11 occurred, it’s crucial they understand the stories of loss and sacrifice as well as the good that came out of the tragedy.

For Bedford Superintendent of Schools Dr. Robert Glass, when the district was asked about bringing some of the students to view the exhibit, there was no hesitation.

“When they approached us about doing this and being able to have this exhibit on Sept. 11 was such an easy thing to say yes to,” Glass said. “It’s fantastic. We got really excited and got on board.”

Members of the Mount Kisco Volunteer Fire Department during the opening ceremony for the 9/11 NEVER FORGET mobile exhibit last Saturday morning.

One of those former NYFD members, retired Battalion Chief John Bruckner, said the months after Sept. 11, 2001, are a blur. There were 2,977 deaths that day, mostly at the World Trade Center, but also in the attacks at the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pa., where passengers aboard Flight 93 struggled with terrorists before the plane crashed in a field.

The nearly 3,000 deaths included 343 New York City firefighters, 37 Port Authority police officers and 23 New York City firefighters at the Trade Center. The emergency services attended more than 400 funerals and memorial services, in addition to sifting through the almost incomprehensible wreckage at Ground Zero. They were buoyed by volunteers from throughout the metropolitan area and then the nation, Bruckner said during Saturday morning’s ceremony that opened the exhibit.

“It was a tragedy, but it’s my belief that when tragedy strikes, that’s when good people come forward,” said Bruckner, who was in charge of the staging area for the NYFD on 9/11.

“Down at the site, so many volunteers showed up – doctors, clergy, nurses, psychologists, food (providers), work clothes,” he added. “People came together.”

In the 10 years since the Tunnel to Towers Foundation’s mobile exhibit was created, this was the first time it had been in New York on the anniversary of 9/11. Mount Kisco Fire Chief John Hochstein said when the fire department learned the exhibit was available for the anniversary, they reached out to the community to help raise the money necessary to bring it to the village.

His hope is that people always understand what happened on September 11.

“It’s been over 20 years since the terrorist attacks,” Hochstein said. “We haven’t forgotten as the fire department, we don’t want the country to forget and a lot of people, or a lot of children, they weren’t alive for 9/11, and being able to bring the memorial and museum here, I think that for people that weren’t alive, this happens to be a part of our history. It was a horrible day, but we’re going to do what we can to make the best out of it and we’re never going to forget.”

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