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9/11 and The Millennial Generation

September 10, 2011

I had just turned 15 when the events of September 11th, 2001 took place. I was at that strange age when I was old enough to know that something tragic and huge was taking place, but not old enough to understand the significance of the attack or even the buildings that were attacked. When the planes hit, I was on the football field at marching band practice. (I was clearly super-cool in high school.) When the buildings fell, I was writing a letter in speech class to a friend. I very clearly remember writing “the towers just fell” onto my notebook paper and, in hindsight, not really understanding the look on my teacher’s face. The next class was History, taught by a former “tunnel rat” in the Vietnam War who boldly declared our country was at war to my class while we struggled to understand what that even meant for us. I lived in Omaha, Nebraska, home to the large Air Force base that Bush landed at that day. I remember sitting on my porch that afternoon, looking for planes in an empty sky that was typically fully of them. I remember watching people tense up when the sound of a military aircraft would fly over. As Stephen Colbert put it this week in an interview with Tom Brokaw, I was a part of a generation that watched the day take place by observing the adults around us.

The SOLD Project was started by members of the millennial generation, and our grassroots beginning was largely spurred on by the creativity and enthusiasm and generosity of our fellow millenials. With the tenth anniversary of the attacks, there have been countless specials and magazine covers that explore how the last ten years have changed our country. Recently, YPulse published a great article on how millennials were changed by the events of September 11th, and it made me think of The SOLD Project and our humble beginnings–the students that showed our film, the buttons they were, the stories they shared about this issue of trafficking that was not yet on everyone’s mind.

Below is an just excerpt; you can read the full YPulse article here.

[Because of September 11th,] social causes will always matter to [millennials]. They witnessed first-hand how complete strangers came together to help each other in a time of need, and that image stuck with them. As a result, Millennials are more than happy to volunteer their time and get involved for the social good. They consider it the job of their generation to make the world a better place. Unlike Baby Boomers who marched in protest or held sit-ins struggling against what they thought was wrong, Millennials’ approach is to work with the powers that be to make changes.

Coming of age having witnessed a national tragedy had a positive effect on this generation of young people. They learned to be optimistic and resilient despite an uncertain future. The U.S. experienced (some might say is still experiencing) a long period of uncertainty about its direction after the attacks. Millennials grew up during that limbo, and having survived that is now helping them cope with the challenge of graduating during a down economy as their futures are still unclear.

Millennials, does this resonate with you? We’d love to hear what you think.

Written by Heather Colletto, SOLD’s Communications Coordinator

One Comment leave one →
  1. September 13, 2011 11:21 pm

    Thanks for sharing that article. I just wanted to say it got me thinking…but then the thoughts that came after…I couldn’t really fit in a comment. My response is here: if you want to see. 🙂

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