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Video & Transcript Of President Obama’s 9/11 Memorial Speech & How I Will Use It In Class

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Among the many remembrances of 9/11 today, President Obama spoke at a memorial at the Pentagon.

The transcript of speech can be found here, and I’ve embedded him speaking at the bottom of this post.

I plan on have students first read this portion of the speech:

Groups like al Qaeda, like ISIL, know that…they will never be able to defeat a nation as great and as strong as America. So, instead, they’ve tried to terrorize in the hopes that they can stoke enough fear that we turn on each other and that we change who we are or how we live. And that’s why it is so important today that we reaffirm our character as a nation — a people drawn from every corner of the world, every color, every religion, every background — bound by a creed as old as our founding, e pluribus unum. Out of many, we are one. For we know that our diversity — our patchwork heritage — is not a weakness; it is still, and always will be, one of our greatest strengths. This is the America that was attacked that September morning. This is the America that we must remain true to.

Across our country today, Americans are coming together in service and remembrance. We run our fingers over the names in memorial benches here at the Pentagon. We walk the hallowed grounds of a Pennsylvania field. We look up at a gleaming tower that pierces the New York City skyline. But in the end, the most enduring memorial to those we lost is ensuring the America that we continue to be — that we stay true to ourselves, that we stay true to what’s best in us, that we do not let others divide us.

They then would respond to this prompt:

What does President Obama think is the best way to honor those who died on 9/11? To what extent do you agree with what he is saying? To support your opinion, be sure to include specific examples drawn from your own experience, your observations of others, or any of your readings.

Feel free to leave suggestions on how I can make this a better learning activity.

I’m adding this post to The Best Posts On Writing Instruction and to The Best Sites To Help Teach About 9/11.

Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

2 Comments

  1. I would ask students what the president means when he says we should be ” stay true to ourselves, that we stay true to what’s best in us, that we do not let others divide us.” Who are the “others”? Are they Americans? Are the all not from America ? how would they define the term “patchwork heritage”, and how does it make us strong. What is the president asking us to do? How could we accomplish this? Do you agree with the president? Why or why not? If not, what do you think makes America strong? What about our heritage defines us as a nation? How do other countries value diversity (or not)? Do we value diversity in language, culture, religion or other cultural aspects? How do we demonstrate that? Could we do better? How? Why is it important?

  2. very interesting prompt. Will try this with my students tomorrow.

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