Joan Bauer - 
   Joan Bauer Joan Bauer - 
      Teaching 9-11







September 21st is The INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PEACE. Here's how to to the United Nations.






  books to consider







How to say peace in different languages











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I am remembering an extraordinary morning I spent at a New Jersey high school after September 11th with Donna Gaffney of the International Trauma Studies Program and another therapist.

We were there to conduct a writing workshop to help students use fiction to process grief and trauma. We talked about how a fictional character must embody truth to be real, and we directed them to create a character that had been touched by the 9-11 tragedy.

"Where are you right now?" I asked them. "Find the voice."

I am still amazed at the vividness of the characters they created — a forty year- old priest devastated over the loss of his mother, a Windows on the World restaurant worker who died in the attack; a young boy just here from another country who watched the towers fall and struggled to tell the story in broken English; two sisters lying in bed talking and trying to make sense of it; a boy wondering where his father was. All of these were fictional characters, but they were alive with the grief, anger, and fear we were all feeling back then. Most of us were in tears by the third hour when the students read their stories aloud. I've thought often of those students — their courage, their giftedness, their honesty.

Back then, we were raw. I'm not raw anymore. I am resolute. On this ninth anniversary of September 11th, I feel the call to peace not as something to contemplate, but as something to do. Gandhi said, "Be the change you want to see in the world." I've adapted that to, "Be the peace you want to see in the world." And while being a peacemaker can seem daunting, I offer Mother Teresa's quiet suggestion on how to start. "A smile," she wrote, "is the beginning of peace."

The 2010 rose poster was photographed and designed by my daughter Jean. Please download it, use it, and spread the word.

Be the peace...

Blog post: "Shade"

"Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal."
      — Martin Luther King, Jr.

"It isn't enough to talk about peace, one must believe it. And it isn't enough to believe in it, one must work for it."
      — Eleanor Roosevelt

"I'd like to believe that people in the long run are going to do more to promote peace than our governments. Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it."
      — Dwight D. Eisenhower

"But peace does not rest in the charters and covenants alone. It lies in the hearts and minds of all people. So let us not rest all our hopes on parchment and on paper, let us strive to build peace, a desire for peace, a willingness to work for peace in the hearts and minds of all of our people. I believe that we can."
      — John F. Kennedy

"All works of love are works of peace."
      — Mother Teresa

CURRICULUM UPDATE: Nine lessons plans for elementary to high school classes have been created by the 4 Action Committee and are now available through their partnership with

WHITE FLAGS PROJECT: Last year this page reported on artist Aaron Fein's tribute to peace (see archives). "It began as an expression of grief about 9-11," Fein says, "but it turned into a message about the future."
Flags can be sponsored ($250/ea). Follow this wonderful story on Facebook or visit his website at

From the short story, "Children of War" by Joan Bauer,
excerpted from 911: The Book of Help

     We are left with the images that we will never forget.
     They've been branded on our minds. They are part of us now.
     Part of our past. Part of our future.
     Gradually, the pictures will fade, the shadows will take over.
     We'll tell ourselves we should be over it now.
     But we're not over it.
     Not yet.
     Maybe not ever.
     I stand at the Promenade in Brooklyn Heights and look across the East River to where the Trade Center had been. I've walked here all my life, walked here with my dog, walked here with my friends. I've Rollerbladed and eaten pizza here, I've laughed, been kissed (once well, once badly), but I never cried on the Promenade until September 11.
     I stand next to the piles of flowers, the photos of the missing, the candles flickering, the flags flying, the people standing quietly in clusters, holding coffee cups, holding each other, remembering the smell of smoke and death that settled over my city.
     We are the children of war.
     They took our parents, our sisters, our brothers, and our neighbors.
     They turned planes into bombs.
     A perfect sunny day became a horror.
     We keep talking about where we were when it happened.
     We'll always talk about it in some way.
     "Where were you?"
     I was in school.
     The lights went out when the first plane hit.
     No one knew what had happened.
     Then gradually the news came.
     We'll tell our children about it and our grandchildren.
     Mostly, we'll turn it over and over in our minds, trying to make sense of what can never be understood.
     If there are solutions, I want to help find them.
     I think one of the ways to find them is through teaching. I don't know what really qualifies anyone to stand in front of a classroom and teach, other than wanting to make things better, wanting to share ideas, wanting to be part of a community of learners.
     I am a New Yorker. I smelled the smoke, saw the ash from the towers, felt the fear settle over my shoulders, had the nightmares, lit the candles, went to the funerals. I wish to God that none of it had ever happened and I thank God that I was here when it did. I've been changed forever—that much I know. And because of that, I want to teach. I want to teach because I want to learn and understand. I believe we have a choice in this world, we, the children of war. We can learn from the hate, we can learn how to stop it, or we can learn to hate even more.

Resource Links

From the National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement
From the National September 11 Memorial & Museum
Podcasts and other oral histories in the multi-media gallery:
National tour exhibition film:
New York State Museum
Tribute Center
Familes of September 11: Support Resources
Library of Congress
American Red Cross
National Archives, Teaching With Documents: Lesson Plans
The "9-11 list-serv" distributes daily e-mails. The archives can be accessed at
To subscribe to the "9-11 list-serv", e-mail and put the word "subscribe" in the subject line.
The September 11th Education Project
Joan Bauer's Letter to a Teacher on September 11, Thoughts on September 11: Dear Teachers: Letters to Another Hero, Published by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) in Voices from the Middle, Volume 9 Number 2, December 2001

The seeds of this page began in 2008 at a conference at the Liberty Science Center. The museum, along with the Families of September 11 and the New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education, brought together educators, scientists, therapists, nurses, physicians, writers, and politicians to discuss how to teach about 9-11 and terrorism. My continued thanks to them.

If you have broached this subject of 9/11 and terrorism with your students in the past, have lesson plans you would consider sharing, or just want to comment, we'd love to hear from you. Write us at
  • Invite students to explore and contribute to the September 11 Digital Archive
  • Encourage student artwork and poetry that celebrates a better world.
  • Let students choreograph a dance to commemorate the anniversary.
  • Put up a poster so students can post their thoughts about the attack throughout the week.
  • Tell your class where you were and how you felt when you heard the news.
  • For High School — Play "The Rising," Bruce Springsteen's song commemorating 9-11.
  • Read the excerpt from "Children of War" aloud in class. Click here for the text.

"...schools not only reflect 'official knowledge', but contribute to shaping it..."

Dr. Diana Hess

needs to be developed and shared with educators throughout the country."

Dr. Paul Winkler


"September 11 should not only 'be a day for mourning' — it should be a day to think about our neighbors, our community, and our country."

Sen. Chuck Schumer (NY)


9/11 is a National Day of Service.

For more information see: and

Or click on the links below for service opportunities:

copyright 2010 Joan Bauer