Generation September 11

Photo by Kali LaCount

A normal morning routine in school for a third grade student usually starts with a simple icebreaker to get the kids ready for the day. The teacher might have them sing a song together, eat a healthy snack, or go over what they had learned the day before. Twelve years ago, UWM student Adam Bronce, AGE, remembers a morning that started very differently.

“The teacher sat us all down right away on the reading mat and told us that there had been an attack.”

Sept. 11, 2013 marked the 12th anniversary of the terrorist attacks that destroyed the Twin Towers and killed thousands. Many students in college now were just starting elementary school 12 years ago, and many have little to no recollection of the event at all.

Today, questions about the attacks usually trigger the same kinds of responses: Visions of the towers falling, smoke curling, flags waving at half-mast, and people jumping from windows or running, covered in soot.

But when asked about their personal memories of that day, many students had little to elaborate on. Most responses started with “It might’ve been,” “It probably was,” or the always popular “I think.” One student even asked not to be questioned because she had little memory of the event and only had “one-word answers” to give.

The impact of the attacks on people and the effect it has had on our country has been the most memorable thing for many. Nick Robinson, a junior and chemistry major, was in the ninth grade when the attacks occurred. He says they helped propel his decision to join the Marines right out of high school.

“Like Israel, people should serve their country when they come of age,” He said.
While the impact of the attacks was profound for some, for others the consequences are a bit of a nuisance.

“Extra customs in the airport can be kind of annoying,” said Michael Fenner, a sophomore from New Zealand majoring in guitar performance.

The fact is that we are now entering a time in which, for young adults who had been small children at the time, the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 are considered to be more a part of history than a personal memory.

Although many young adults are unable to fully remember the events that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001, they all agreed that the attacks have made lasting impressions on them and our society.

“I was seven, so the impact was hidden,” said Emily Strohmenger, a sophomore and theater major. “I understand what happened and what it means now, but not at seven.”