TODAY   |  September 09, 2011

Class of 2020 students reflect on 9/11

Though they may have not even been born when planes crashed into the World Trade Center, Pentagon, the class of 2020 have grown up in the shadows of the tragedies on 9/11.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> now to our class of 2020 series, following a group of children from their first day of kindergarten to high school graduation. it's start of the new school year and kids just started fourth grade.

>> along with challenging new subjects they'll be hearing a lot about a day in history that happened before most of them were born. "today" national correspondent natalie morales talked to the kids about the tenth anniversary of september 11th and what it means to them.

>> i can't believe you guys are going into the fourth grade.

>> reporter: the end of summer is near. one last chance for a play date before school starts. jordan, lauren , and eileen look forward to their first day of school, they will be surrounded by reminders of a past and day too young to remember but old enough to know that it will never be forgotten.

>> pictures are beyond belief.

>> it felt like there was an explosion of some kind here at the pentagon.

>> somerset county airport confirmed the crash of a large plane north of that airport.

>> reporter: on september 11th , 2001 , lauren 's mom was already 11 months pregnant.

>> makes me think what kind of world am i bringing my world into in.

>> reporter: lauren was born two months after the attacks.

>> i remember cutting out the headlines as you do for their baby book and it was all about al qaeda and i kept thinking i've got to find a good positive headline to put in her bay be i book and there wasn't one. so i thought, it is what it is. this is, you know, this is the day she'll remember.

>> oh, my god!

>> reporter: as lauren and their classmates grew up they learned more about the day that changed history.

>> and i asked them who osama bin laden was, and they said the guy who planned an attack on the twin towers .

>> they told me that bad people could go into planes and kill the pilot and sort of purposely steer the plane toward the building. and it collapsed were in 2007 lauren 's parents took her to the place where the world trade center once towered over manhattan.

>> we went and visited ground zero . and we explained what happened.

>> i think she felt the intensity of it.

>> most of the people were all sad and they were laying flowers down.

>> i think about our class of 20 20 a 20 and the year that a lot of them were born, around 9/11.

>> reporter: while that was not part of the lesson the principal says it has changed the way teachers and students look at the world in the classroom.

>> they're more tuned into the issues that are global and the families are, at least, and it really has even -- even the school and our community has really turned its eye on how -- what role do we have in the world.

>> reporter: last may lauren and her classmates were watching television when president obama closed another chapter in this story of 9/11.

>> the united states has conducted an operation that killed osama bin laden , the leader of al qaeda .

>> reporter: for the kids what happened next was thrilling and confusing.

>> they celebrated that somebody died, they were like, oh, yay, he died. but to celebrate that somebody died.

>> i was a little bit at the same time i wasn't.

>> welcome to your fout grade year.

>> reporter: "today" jordan and his classmates are back in school ready to tackle new challenges in english and math and science, but they don't need a history lesson to know that september 11th changed their lives even before they were born.

>> not that it's stuck in my head but i know about it.

>> whenever you see it, you know.

>> it's all around, yeah.

>> what a weekend we are all preparing for. so interesting, ten years have passed but i think for all of us americans, it's still that emotional connection. it still feels raw in a way, particularly when we see these kids who were born around this hard time in our country but also all the stories that kids who have lost parents on 9/11. it's good to remember but it's difficult to remember.

>> uplifting. i spoke with a man who lost his wife in the pentagon. and we are in it together. and around this time you're able to hug, you're able to touch a friend, and it reminds you of the things that are so important. at this time when we have such an environment, it reminds us that we are in it together. my dad was in the army for 30 years. this is our country. we have to stick together. we shouldn't look at tragedy for that to remind us, but it does. and i think that's the most important thing at this point.

>> it does. even if you do shed a tear or you feel that pang, you know, nearly 2,000 people that passed away , they deserve our tears and our remembrance.

>> fourth graders, you know that there are good children out there and that's our future. we're living for them.