On the morning of September 11, 2001, Stephen Siller, a fireman from the Bronx, tried to cross into New York. When he reached the Battery Tunnel, he found it closed to auto traffic.
Stephen Siller loaded his firefighting gear onto his back and ran over a mile to the Twin Towers. He died there.
Yesterday, for the seventh year in a row, people (some from as far away as London) retraced his steps in the annual Tunnel to Towers Run. Firemen ran in their gear and people wore weighted backpacks. Proceeds from the run are given to charities for burn victims.
I sat in the car listening to the NPR story about Siller and crying. I can't fathom the depth of his call to do his duty. He left five children and a wife behind, which is heartbreaking. He also left his memory as an inspiration for what it means to care about people.
I spend a lot of time discussing the news with my students, talking about truth and analyzing sources. I give them articles about things they may not have considered, or possibly heard about before. We discuss hate speech and the genocide in Darfur. We discuss fallacies in political ads.
I think stories like Stephen Siller's are the most important, but I don't know how to teach them. Siller is the kind of person I want my students to grow into, the kind of person I would like to be. Sometimes I feel like the kids don't connect with these stories, or they blow them off. I'm stuck.