Panama City - When Mowat Middle School teachers planned the 8th grade field trip to New York instead of Washington D.C. this year, they obviously didn't know Osama Bin Laden would be killed. The timing of the Navy Seal mission made the group's visit to Ground Zero far more educational. Instead of just learning history, the students say they got to see it unfold.
When 9-11 happened, most of the Mowat Middle School students on the trip were just 3 or 4 years old. "All I remember is my mom crying alot," said Tristan Goodlake. "I remember sitting at home watching the TV with my mom, I can't really remember the details," said Samara Roberts. But this week they've become immersed in the significance of that event.
While traveling to New York Sunday, they learned about US Navy Seals killing Al Queda leader Osama Bin Laden. Soon after they visited the sight of his most vicious atrocity, Ground Zero. "Being there in person, it felt like there was more of a connection than just reading a book." said Roberts. "It is such a small area to have those buildings come down, it just takes time to take it all in, I can't imagine being there that day," said parent chaperone Ron Sharpe.
Being there so soon after Bin Laden's death also had an impact. "It was just a great feeling to know that it was not just remembering those that lost their lives but also that justice had been served on their behalf," said Mowat teacher Nakia Morris. "I was just thinking about families and how important this is to them. They will never recover their loved ones that were taken away from them but hopefully it can give them another piece of closure," said teacher and trip organizer Crystall Woodford.
The group also saw the progress on the Ground Zero memorial. "It felt kind of good because they are building new buildings there in honor of the people who died there," said Goodlake.
An NBC crew caught up with the group during the Ground Zero visit and used them in a story that aired nationwide Thursday morning. "You don't really celebrate anyone's death, but we know that justice in a way has taken place," Morris told the NBC reporter.
The group is now on it's way home. They're expected back early Friday night.