Monday, September 12, 2011

Library Program: 9/11 Documentary & Discussion

I hosted a 9/11 documentary viewing and discussion last Thursday at the library. I selected a documentary from our branch's collection called 102 Minutes That Changed America. It was a television special that aired, commercial-free, on the History Channel on September 11, 2008.

This film is a compilation of amateur and professional video taken during the harrowing 102 minutes where the Twin Towers were struck and ultimately collapsed. These are videos that I, at least, have never seen before and the reactions captured are all raw and real in their own right. There are videos from college students in an NYU dorm, people watching from Times Square, across the river, a block away, a mile away. The documentary is shown in real time with no narration--just titles of where the video was shot. It's definitely a harrowing documentary. You can learn more about it here, if you'd like.

On the evening of the program I welcomed my teens to the library and gave a little introduction to the film. My regular teens at the library are young--between 13 and 16 years old. None of them had any recollection of 9/11, although some said they've been told they watched it happen on TV. I explained my personal connection to the events--my husband, at the time a bridge painter in NY, watched the towers fall on his birthday. Two days later, his crew showed up at Ground Zero to offer their services with the search and rescue. I was at work at the time--teaching kindergarten in a day care in central NJ. Many of our parents worked in NY; one of our after-care students lost her dad that day.

I wanted to make the events real for my teens. I know they'd spent time in school this week learning about the events, but I wanted them to know this was something real that happened. I think this documentary captured that reality. I think my teens definitely took something away from this program, especially because so much of this footage is so raw. 

While a few of my teens were less than interested (and one actually asked if we could put another movie in),  I think it was because their level of comfort that was being tested. The movie ran over our typical 8:30pm end time, so I lost a great number of teens at that time, but several did stay until the conclusion. Next week we'll be back to our regular teen advisory board meetings, planning upcoming programs (and actually, this program was suggested by the very same teen advisory board!), but hopefully tonight's program will make the events of 9/11 real to these teens who have no memories of it.

Enjoy your reading!

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