For each generation, there is a pivotal event which defines a before and an after. For millions of Millennials, September 11 was such a historical moment. In a multitude of ways, that September morning synthesized a disconnected set of shifts that created the conditions for 9/11 to occur. But it also set the public and foreign policy worldwide for the next 18 years and beyond.
However, as we attempt to comprehend 9/11’s global impact, today’s undergraduate students approach the topic from an inherent disadvantage. When the towers fell in New York, many of them were infants. Some were not yet even born.
In the featured video, we see young people grappling with the complexity inherent in September 11’s events and how it opened the perspective of many Americans in a way they had never before experienced. This video features students, just like them, who are wrestling with an unprecedented and unforeseen loss of human life, attempting to come to terms with a challenge to our system of government and way of life.
Sharing video like these with students can begin to shed important light into how our perspective changed in the before/after of 9/11. In a complex world where fake news pops up endlessly, where truth must defend itself against vicious attacks, where trolling and hostility threaten to degrade all political debate and discussion, 9/11 remains important. In our promises to “Never Forget” we must continue telling the story of September 11. Seeking new ways to make this focal event tangible equips students with the ability to comprehend today’s political and media landscape.
While another incident will define the post-Millennial generation, that event will be founded on the world created by September 11. Without understanding 9/11, students’ ability to interpret their generational event will be hampered and inaccurate. 9/11 will be the “before” for our students; using the media tools at our fingertips, we need to continue to illustrate for students how that fateful September day continues to shape all facets of our global village.