Most adult Americans know where they were on the morning of September 11th, 2001.
However, these Neuqua Valley High School students were still toddlers at the time, and have no memory of the events.
Chuck Wehrli, a retired captain from the Naperville Fire Department, hopes to give them a better understanding of the significance of September 11th by telling them about his time at Ground Zero.
“I’m doing this because I want you guys to remember what happened 14 years ago, because it’s going to make an influence on your life for the rest of your life,” said Wehrli.
Every September for nearly 10 years, Chuck has visited Dr.Tracey Cook’s American History classes at Neuqua, giving them a first-hand account of what he experienced on 9/11, as part of Missouri Task Force One, a FEMA search and rescue team.
“Not finding anybody, I can expect that when you pull up to that kind of damage. Would’ve been nice but, we were pretty much told after day one, this is now going into the recovery phase, we’re just going to start moving steel and see if we can find people,” Wehrli explained.
One of only seven planes in the sky that night, Wehrli’s response unit flew out of St. Louis on September 11th, headed to New York. His team spent the next 10 days searching through the rubble for victims and assisting other first responders.
“He talks about it like it was yesterday like it was still so fresh in his mind, so what impacted me the most was the way that he spoke about it and the emotions behind it,” said Rebecca Howell, a senior at Neuqua.
Now retired, Wehrli uses what he learned in the aftermath of 9/11 to educate the next generation of Naperville.
“I think they gain a better appreciation for the immensity of the event,” explained Tracey Cook, a Social Studies teacher at Neuqua and friend of Wehrli.
Jessica Davis, a sophomore in Mrs. Cook’s class said, “because I wasn’t old enough to realize what was going on at that time it really helped me understand how people felt when it was happening.”
Evan Summers reports for Naperville News 17.
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