Reflecting on 9/11: Current students say generation marked by threat of terrorism
By Shira Laucharoen
A decade ago, this year’s senior class likely sat in their sixth grade homerooms as the one of the most significant events of their generation unfolded.
For Jasmine Senior, CC ’12, the attacks impacted her in ways both personal and intellectual. Her mother, who had served in the military for 21 years, was deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq, while back home Senior developed an interest in political science and current events.
“September 11 happened when we were younger, so we grew up with it, this war, and the change in American culture,” Senior said.
Students like Jason Mogen, CC ’12, called it an event that defined the generation that grew up around it.
“I definitely think there is a 9/11 culture,” Mogen said. “There is a lot of nostalgia and reflection, as well as political manipulation, which has both positives and negatives. It’s very thematic and referential. There’s a rhetoric that’s developed out of it.”
Senior said the legacy of caution that developed after the attacks continues to touch people’s lives today.
“There was a constant sense of fear. Even now, for the anniversary, I know security is being tightened everywhere across the city,” Senior said.
“Every day there was a sense of ‘What’s going to happen next?’ There was anthrax, airport security. People’s lives completely changed because they were unconsciously affected and deeply emotional.”
Sheila Misheni, SEAS ’14, who immigrated from Kenya, noted the dramatic transformation in airport security practices just in her lifetime—changes that echoed worldwide.
“Before you didn’t have to take off your shoes. Nobody thought about terrorists. People became more scared and hesitant,” Misheni said.
Kat Chan, SEAS ’12, said the terrorist attacks and subsequent wars may have shaped a culture of apathy and cynicism in younger generations.
“I think we experienced terrorism before we were able to identify it or contextualize it,” Chan said. “There was an inability to cope or understand, and people distance themselves from these very events. I think there’s still a state of shock.”
Mogen said he believes that the focus of idealism among post-9/11 era young adults has been significantly shaped by the attacks. International crisis caused a generation of individuals to struggle with moral and political questions early on, he added.
“Going through middle school, high school, and college with a 9/11 rhetoric causes us to focus on the issues 9/11 is about and makes us passionate about those ideas,” Mogen said.[via columbiaspectator]