WEST HARTFORD, Conn. — What the world witnessed from a far, Bill Martino experienced from his college campus. He was a student at Fordham University in New York City when the towers were hit.
“You were able to see the smoke rising from the World Trade Center,” he told FOX61. “To see those buildings on fire that morning is really an image that is burned into my head,” Martino said.
Today, the Kingswood Oxford English teacher is sharing his experiences with students in West Hartford.
“Nowadays our students are so immune to everything, they are just inundated with images and there has been no shortage of tragedies since 9/11, so I think it would be easy for them to categorize that as just another thing that happened to our country,” he said.
The father of four is helping young people find meaning in the country's history.
“9/11 really changed the course of history, there is pre-9/11 world and post-9/11 world," Martino added. "Our day-to-day activities, traveling, everything changed on that morning."
Martino’s New York City literature class explored the history of September 11, 2001, before the pandemic, and included a trip to the 9/11 memorial and museum.
“I have all of my notes from 9/11 and you can see maybe halfway down the page, that I just stop and I have been carrying that around with me for 20 years and I still show that to my students,” he said.
Stephanie Lodovico was a freshman at Fordham when the towers were hit.
“Twenty years later I am still struggling with how to talk about it,” she told FOX61.
The Cheshire special-education teacher remembers it well.
“We would go upstairs and we could see the smoke even for weeks, I remember all the commuters at Fordham were stuck there because all the bridges and tunnels were closed,” Lodovico said.
For the mom of two, the impact of the attacks is less about lesson plans and more about how that September day influences the way she wants her students to feel in her Doolittle Elementary classroom.
“It is really important to me to make sure that my students feel safe when they are in my classroom," Lodovico added. "That they know that I care for them, that they know that I would never let anything happen to them, that we are all on the same page about what is our emergency plan, this is what we do, this is where we go."
Their students are too young to know a world before the towers fell but fortunate to have teachers still finding the good in one of the darkest chapters in our history.
“I hope that the young people remember the sacrifices that were made that day, the bravery that was exhibited, and like I said the outpouring of love and support,” Martino said.
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