Even though five years have passed since her brother Gary was killed while working in the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, Edie Lutnick still feels the pain.
"It's every bit as raw today as it was five years ago," said Lutnick, 47, a New Yorker who worked with her brother at Cantor Fitzgerald, but went into the office late on that tragic day. Lutnick's other brother, Howard, CEO of the company, was dropping his son off at kindergarten when the airplanes struck the twin towers.
"If the planes hit later in the day, it would have killed all three of us," she said in an interview.
Five years after the attacks, Lutnick hopes that if she shares her experience with others, it can help to keep Sept. 11 fresh in the American consciousness. She plans to deliver an oral history of her experience as part of the National 9/11/01 Civic Education Program, an initiative that could help shape the ways in which high schools around the country teach about the terror attacks.
The program is organized by World Trade Center United Family Group, a New Jersey-based organization of September 11th families, survivors and rescue workers, as well as educators from Taft Institute for Government at New York's Queens College, and the ACE INA Foundation, the philanthropic arm of ACE INA, an insurance provider.
These groups plan to distribute lesson plans and a documentary-style DVD — complete with interviews with rescue workers, eyewitnesses, elected officials, survivors and everyday people like Lutnick, who lost loved ones in the attacks.
"If opening up as part of this program will make future generations understand what happened on that day — on a real level — I'm willing to do that," she said.
At a press conference held last month at the National Constitution Center, WTC United executive director Anthony Gardner said the group expects to launch its educational program in September of 2007.
High school students "are inheriting this war on terrorism," said Gardner, who lost his brother Harvey during the New York attacks. "They must be informed citizens and preserve the memory of the event."
Gardner noted that the Sept. 11 lesson plans will be modeled after existing Holocaust education, where firsthand accounts and survivor testimonials are used to engage and educate.
"Holocaust survivors are unwilling to have events forgotten — we, too, are unwilling to have these events forgotten," stated Lutnick.
Program organizers believe that the attacks have started to dim from public consciousness, and frequently point to a Washington Post poll released in August that found that 30 percent of Americans do not know what year the attacks occurred.
"That's a pretty frightening statistic," stated Gardner. "We must combat that — and keep the memory alive."