LINES OF FIRE
A CURRICULUM GUIDE FEATURING 21ST CENTURY WARTIME CORRESPONDENCES

Written in partnership with New York Times bestselling author Andrew Carroll, this free curriculum guide is designed around unforgettable primary source documents that tell the history of 9/11 and its effects through the words of American service members and their families.  The complete guide includes six lessons for educators of grades 9-12, and is suited to both Social Studies and English classes.  Teachers are encouraged to use this curriculum guide in tandem with our in-person or virtual veteran visits to classrooms.

LESSON 1 | THE INCREDIBLE BOATLIFT OF 9/11: "ADOPTED POEMS"

Students use an evocative letter written by 9/11 survivor Anna Miller as an inspiration to create poetry about selflessness. Anna was attending a routine meeting in Manhattan on 9/11, and in her letter she recounts the harrowing tragedy of the day and her experience as one of the fortunate who were rescued by boat and taken to safety. Combined with a 12-minute documentary called Boatlift, this lesson inspires students to view and respond to the selfless actions of those who witnessed history firsthand. Students will write an “adopted” poem: one that is composed solely using the words and phrases found in Anna Miller’s letter.

LESSON 2 | ABOARD FLIGHT 93: PRESENTING THE STORY OF THE "FOURTH PLANE"

Students explore a variety of primary source material from Flight 93 including information recovered from the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder (also known as the “black box”) and transcripts of phone calls placed by passengers and crew from the air. In the process, students piece together the critical events that took place by asking the questions that historians have asked – how do we know what happened aboard Flight 93? – and in the process, develop a sophisticated understanding of this unique piece of 9/11 history.  Following the lesson, students view a video featuring 9:57 Project co-founder John Hamilton explaining the events as they took place.

LESSON 3 | REFLECTIONS ON CIVIC ENGAGEMENT: LETTERS TO THE FUTURE

Students participate in a “Gallery Walk” and letter-writing activity as they consider the incredible sacrifices of American servicemen and women fighting abroad. Then, they respond to those sacrifices by writing a letter to their future selves. In the letter, students make a commitment to become more engaged in their communities by serving in some way, much like many Americans did in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.  Students are asked to give their letter to a trusted relative or their teacher for safe keeping to be returned later.

LESSON 4 | ACKNOWLEDGING SACRIFICE: LETTERS TO VETERANS

Students participate in a “Meet and Greet” role-play activity and letter-writing activity that provides them with the opportunity to understand and acknowledge the sacrifices of post-9/11 combat veterans. They compose a letter to a veteran based on what they've learned, and their teachers have the option to send these letters to the 9:57 Project.  Selected letters will be posted to our website for all veterans to view in the hopes that those who visit the site may take comfort in reading student-composed letters.

LESSON 5 | HONORING VETERANS' FAMLIES: MEMORIAL DESIGN COMPETITION 

Students design a memorial to honor the legacy and sacrifice of the families of post-9/11 combat veterans. Using letters written by or to the fathers, mothers, children, and spouses of veterans, students are asked to imagine a public space that highlights the contributions of one or more of these groups of people.  Students are prompted with an interactive "stations" activity, examples of other national memorials, and a worksheet with guiding questions to help them get started with their designs.  Once the designs have been completed, students view each design and vote to select a “winner.”

LESSON 6 | HONORING VETERANS' FAMLIES: LEGISLATION DESIGN COMPETITION 

Students act as spokespersons of four committees who have been asked to travel to Washington, D.C., in the present day. Their task is to design proposals for a new bill that aims to help the immediate family members of post-9/11 combat veterans but is lacking in the specific ways in which it can do so. Representing mothers of veterans, fathers of veterans, children of veterans, and spouses of veterans, these committees each bring their own unique ideas to contribute.  Once all of the proposals have been made, students vote to select which ones will make it into a hypothetical Congressional bill.