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9/11 BY THE GENERATIONS

Gen Z and Millennials share what 9/11 means to them

As the 20th anniversary of September 11, 2001 approaches, Cassandra explored what this pivotal event means to young people and how their perspectives differ by generation. We asked Gen Z and Millennials to share what impact this event has had on their life, how it influenced the identity of their generation as a whole, and what this means for their and the country’s future. Read below to hear straight from the young members of our Cassandra Collective.

A DEFINING MOMENT FOR MANY MILLENNIALS

Many Millennials watched the day unfold while at school and, along with the entire country, did not fully understand what was happening. The intensity of the imagery and news coverage made this an immediately defining event for them. However, the majority of Gen Z was not yet born and those that were, were only toddlers so most learned about it in school- more as part of the nation’s history than their own.

  • “I feel that [9/11] started to slip away from my generation and it is more ingrained in the previous generation.” – Pete, 22, NJ (Gen Z)

  • “I don't think of [9/11] as a huge part of my generation's identity. I don't hear it talked about among my generation.” – Georgia, 24, CA (Gen Z)

    • “9/11 made people in my generation more cynical. It was one of multiple events (the 2008 economic crash, the Trump presidency, the COVID-19 pandemic) that definitely shakes your optimism and any sense of patriotism you may have once had.” – Rebecca, 25, MN (Millennial)

    WHETHER ALIVE IN 2001 OR NOT, BOTH GENERATIONS EXPERIENCE THE LONG-TERM SADNESS CAUSED BY 9/11

    The impact of that day continues to terrorize the mental health of Americans, even of those who were small kids or not even born yet.

    • “ I was just a baby when it happened so I don’t remember it. But I went to preschool and elementary school with a girl who lost her mom at the World Trade Center. She didn’t remember her mom at all but that day was always a sad day for her, of course. And we were sad for her. She never came to school that day.” -Mac, 21, PA

    • “[9/11] brings a kind of sad nostalgia. It makes me remember my younger days and all the sadness and anger plus the tension towards Arabic people...” – Robert, 26, WI

    • “I think at the time [of 9/11] I didn’t feel anything because I was a child, but now when I look back on it and see the videos & the people, it makes me instantly cry. It was such a tragedy…I think it made a lot of people see that life isn’t simple.” – Kimberly, 25, TX

    YOUNG PEOPLE FEEL THAT TERRORISM IS PART OF SOCIETY AND THAT MORE ATTACKS ON U.S. SOIL ARE POSSIBLE

    Before 9/11, young Americans thought that attacks like these were a thing of the past or a thing that happened elsewhere. However, now despite multiple safety measures enacted, young people feel that another terrorist attack on American soil is a possibility.


    • “I think that an event like 9/11 could happen in the future. Before 9/11, no one thought terrorists would hijack planes and crash them into skyscrapers. A few years ago, no one imagined terrorists would rent trucks and drive through crowds of people. As long as terrorists are intent on harming people, there is always a chance that another attack could happen.” – Justin, 32, NJ

    • “I'm worried about...domestic terrorism, if not attempts at a full blown coup/civil war after the events of January this year.” – Rebecca, 25, MN

    • “Although our airport security has expanded gun control and other public safety measures have not, making the country vulnerable to another attack...I also think that US intervention in the middle east has drastically lowered our reputation in that region, which could contribute to more terrorist attacks in the future.” – Melissa, 24, FL