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Interpreting the Evidence

September 11th Letter from Acevedo, 2001

  • Documents in this Activity:
  • Historical Eras:

    Contemporary United States (1965 - present)

  • Thinking Skill:

    Historical Analysis & Interpretation

  • Grade Level:

    Upper Elementary
    Middle School
    High School
    College University

  • Topics:


  • Primary Source Types:

    Written Document

  • Regions:

    New York City
    New York State
    United States

  • Creator:

    NYS Archives Partnership Trust Education Team

  1. Load September 11th Letter from Acevedo, 2001 in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Document Description
Letter from Erika Acevedo, a student in Puerto Rico, to New York City Mayor Giuliani, September 11, 2001.
Historical Context
On the morning of September 11, 2001, terrorists hijacked four commercial airplanes in order to cause havoc and death in the United States. That morning, flight number 11 was scheduled to fly from Boston to Los Angeles. Tragically, it crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City at 8:46 a.m. Minutes later, at 9:03, another hijacked airplane flying from Boston to Los Angeles crashed into the South Tower. While the country was focused on the turmoil in New York City, a third plane flying from Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles crashed into the Pentagon at 9:38 a.m. The fourth hijacked plane was flying from New Jersey to San Francisco. This last plane did not make it to its target, but crashed in rural Pennsylvania outside of Pittsburgh. Approximately 3,000 people died from the attacks. The victims were a diverse group of men and women from ninety different countries around the world. Notes of sympathy came from all over the world. These letters were written in English as part of a classroom assignment in a school in Puerto Rico.

The terrorist attacks of 9/11 were the largest strike against Americans in the United States since the attack on Pearl Harbor during the Second World War. The suspected mastermind behind these heinous acts was Osama Bin Laden, leader of a terrorist network called Al Qaeda. These attacks spurred the War in Iraq, also known as the "War on Terror." The United States and coalition armed forces from many different countries are battling militant groups, terrorists, and other general hostilities in Iraq in pursuit of eliminating terrorist cells and bringing democracy to the Middle East. The people of the United States and the world have become deeply divided about the War in Iraq. President Bush’s administration has been questioned about its intentions in Iraq, as well as the purpose, procedures, and outcomes of the war.

Essential Question
Why do localized events cause global reactions?
Check for Understanding
Summarize the main idea of this essay and explain why this student would feel so deeply about an event that took place so far away.
Historical Challenges
What were the circumstances and effects of the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941? What are the similarities and differences between the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the attack on September 11, 2001?
Write a report on schools in Puerto Rico. What are the schools' schedule and curriculum, and how long is the school day? Do students learn in Spanish, English, or both languages?
Interdisciplinary Connections
English Language Arts: Research and read about current events in another country. Write letters to a school in that country about some of their current happenings.
Foreign Language/ESL: Translate this letter into another language.