GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) – Saturday marks the 20th anniversary of September 11, 2001, a day that changed America forever.

In an effort to reflect on the day and never forget, schools in West Michigan are making sure their students know what happened.

Many people remember exactly where they were and what they were doing on September 11th. But for the students now in high school, they weren’t even born yet.

Spanish teacher Yanett Gardner hopes that she can give her students lessons that will remain with them.

She says the day also affected her family personally.

“She was late that day, and she’s never late,” Gardner said.

Gardner says that on September 11, his sister left for work in New York.

“She was one of those people crossing the Washington Bridge, full of ashes. It was very intense for our family. We also come from a military family and we knew what that meant, ”Gardner said.

Gardner and social studies program supervisor Mulonge Kalumbula say they want to make sure their students understand how the day has changed everything.

“One of the things that a lot of people, a lot of educators want to do is protect our students from drama or fear, but it’s essential that they know, that they understand,” Gardner said.

“This event changed our whole world. Wherever you are, the impact of September 11 is being felt globally, ”said Kalumbula.

James Johnson, a history teacher for Kalamazoo Public Schools, says he teaches his students during the day by providing background information first.

“With any history teaching, I think it’s important to start with the context. Looking at things like news footage from the day, interviews with people, and then we talk about how that led to things like the war on terror, ”Johnson said.

These educators hope their students will take home a deeper meaning of what 9/11 really meant to the United States.

“Get people ready to stand up for what’s right, and that’s what I want them to do, stand up for what’s right,” Gardner said.

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