Overheard on CNN.com: Growing up in the shadow of 9/11
May 5th, 2011
05:54 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Growing up in the shadow of 9/11

Comment of the day:

"We gotta raise the bar for what is considered human." -damnthatsux

The 9/11 generation's bogeyman is gone

Why did American college students celebrate Osama bin Laden’s death so exuberantly? Experiencing 9/11 when young may have changed them in ways their grandparents would best understand, wrote Ann O'Neill. For both generations, she said, there were faces they could put to evil: Osama bin Laden and Adolf Hitler.

The story had many from both sides of the 9/11 generational divide sharing their experiences. jpr11011, who was 6 years old on 9/11, said, "I don't remember a world without terrorism. I don't remember flying without extensive security checks. I don't remember when we didn't have troops in the Middle East. I was whooping and hollering when bin Laden was finally killed! We were all so excited at school."

choice0047 said, "Ha, grownups have no idea what young children went through on that day. In Maryland, our schools went on lockdown and we were sent home. Turning on the television before our parents got home and seeing everything happen while alone was traumatizing. After that I never wanted to be on a plane again. As 8-, 9- or 10-year-olds we didn't understand what was going on. I worried about my dad working a block away from the White House and wondered what other buildings would be struck."

itsmejanet, a 22-year-old college student at the University of Arizona, said she was an eighth-grader living in Westchester County, New York, when 9/11 occurred. "I am studying psychology and think about 9/11 quite often. Your piece made me cry. When I found out Osama had been killed, I sat in my room and wondered, what will the terrorists do to us now? Will they attack our college campuses? I am scared. When I fly, I scan everyone on the plane, even babies, wondering who is the air marshall, who is a terrorist. All thanks to our real life boogeyman."

snowguy716 said he was a junior in high school on 9/11. "While most of my childhood memories were from the seemingly carefree days of the 1990s, 9/11 had a distinct impact on who I am. I went through stages of being ultra-patriotic, supporting the president, to being disillusioned. This is a game changer. This action has restored a bit of faith in my country, in our military, and in humanity. I hope it lasts."

But spectat0r, who was an elementary-school student during 9/11, said the article was "out of touch and shallow."

"As a youth who grew up in the midst of 9/11, I didn't go to bed at night scared because bin Laden was going to fly a 747 into my house," spectator continued. "They are only terrorists if they actually terrorize you. Shut up. Move on." ljustman agreed. "I was able to come to terms with the threat of terrorism as a seventh grader. I realized I was far more likely to die in a car crash than terrorist attack."

Those from earlier generations also had their say. Dorothea7 said, "We thought things would get back to 'normal' after WWII. We worked at normalcy, worked hard at it. But the world had changed forever, and it keeps changing. One monster is dead, but there are plenty of monsters around and more yet to come. And that is how it is: the trick is to keep it all from driving you crazy."

megaphone recalled life in the fourth grade during the Cold War: "We were still doing duck-and-cover drills and living around public fallout shelters, I was scared to death of a Soviet nuclear attack. I had no perspective and believed a bomb was coming our way at any time. Kids do not have the same perspective as adults do. Scared? I was scared too." odonna agreed, "Why is this generation so 'scarred' by this? Many of us grew up with the thought the Russians were coming after us. We were always threatened by that situation."

ganapper said, "I don't ever remember feeling all that 'safe.' I remember we had the Oklahoma City bombing, school shootings, the first attempt on the World Trade Center. 9/11 was a shocking day but let's not pretend we were safe before then."

But euphioTGank remembered the U.S. before 9/11 "as the land of milk and honey."

"People had the freedom to move about without government interference, you didn't need a passport to visit Mexico or Canada and the jobs - there were jobs and opportunities everywhere," euphioTGank continued. "Gas was cheap and the living was easy."

As for those celebrations? To ight247, who suggested that college students were merely "celebrating an opportunity to get wasted" mmsulli replied, "Sunday night was the eve of finals here at ISU, so actually, 99.99% of us were nowhere near wasted; we were studying. 9/11 was the day I was introduced to the true horror and evil of this world. Until then, I had no idea there was a man in this world that truly wanted to kill thousands of innocent people. Everything literally changed in 2 minutes flat. This has haunted our generation for 10 years. So yes, this did mean a lot. We were celebrating something that held us in the grip of fear for 10 years. It meant the end of the first true evil we had ever known. I also celebrated for my friend in the military in Afghanistan, hoping that maybe this would mean he could come home."

jmorales20, who was in high school during 9/11, said, "I find it hard to condemn celebrations of bin Laden's death. We can reasonably believe that there would have been just as much celebration if he had been captured. The symbolism of the moment matters more to us than the death, a far cry, I note from what we've seen in some Islamic nations."

evdogg415 said, "I was only 11 when the towers came down. I never thought I'd see the day Osama was killed. It feels great." asianobserve said, "It was a feeling of redemption more than any other feeling."

soundoff (50 Responses)
  1. inside job

    Also I would like to say this. If President Obama wants to be the greatest president we ever had, then he should reopen the investigation into what happend on Sept. 11th and actually follow the facts and break the truth and bring those responsible to justice! I hope someone opens an investigation without the help of the CIA becuase they are in on it, Why has NBC not broke anything? Becuase they are run by GE who has a share the the DOD contract which was signed after sept 11. Please President Obama if this reaches you just simply do what is right and reopen an investigation into the tragedy hell I will lead the team! Just remember people 911 is an inside job and if it ever gets out I will laugh at all of you who are sitting there laughing at me. ITS A DAMN SHAME they had to do this to have reason to do all the stuff they did AFTER sept 11!!!!

    May 5, 2011 at 8:52 pm | Report abuse |
  2. nur amabo nur

    @inside job – 2 days ago ? Congratulations on your waking up! You will definitely be loosing a lot of sleep and friends when you try and tell them the truth about 9/11. Try news blok or infowars which get better ratings and include links in the articles so you never wonder where the story came from.

    May 5, 2011 at 8:53 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Deanna

    the munchkins celebrated the witches death... just sayin'

    May 5, 2011 at 9:16 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Linari

    Ok, so it was and inside job.....and? What happens now? What can be done?

    May 5, 2011 at 10:15 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Daniel Rendler

    I agree without he article. I was 13 years old when the towers fell. AS my teacher turned the tv on I watched people jump 100 stories to their death. I went home wondering why anybody would murder innocent people. I shed a fear joyful tears and celebrated after he was killed because somebody that evil does not deserve life. WHile i do not like president Obama's policies I am forever thankful that he rolled the dice and brought some closure to our great nation.

    May 5, 2011 at 10:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Speaktok

      I am right there with you. I was 16 the day the towers fell. I remember talking to orthodontist that morning when she removed my braces and told her how much pain this day is going to bring in years to come. IT really ticks me off as a tax payer that we did not rebuild right away. IF I was someone that lost my life for that I would have wanted people to rebuild and move on. THat would have ticked off the terrorists more than anything. And we should have rebuilt quicker.

      May 5, 2011 at 11:18 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Psyclops

    Everyone needs to realize that we will always need a bad guy for the sheriff to chase. This theater will always go on here. Its unfortunate but true.

    May 5, 2011 at 11:11 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Speaktok

    I was 16 when 9/11 happened. And all I can say it I am very disappointed that we have taken so long to rebuild and just move on. I am so tired of being looked at when I travel like I am a terrorist. We have literally treated the American public like we are all guilty and were part of this because we have in one light given up our freedom to make sure we are being protected from terrorism. Sad.

    May 5, 2011 at 11:12 pm | Report abuse |
  8. nur amabo nur

    If the theories of 9/11 were proven true there would be a huge uprising among the people of the US. The whole government would have to be torn down and re structured with transparency. Since this is would actually be a global conspiracy (because of the wars) we will probably never get all the answers. Rebuilding this great country would take great sacrifice but true patriots think it would worth it.

    May 5, 2011 at 11:22 pm | Report abuse |
  9. You dont get it

    I was a first grader living in Arlington, Virginia on 9/11. You can say that peoples patriotism went away or that our generation is not seeing things in perspective, but a plane blew up my friends dad that day. Often I see past the rows of white in Arlington National Cemetery solemnly standing guard outside our nation's capital, and I think about how future generations have sacrificed but its still true that more civilians died on 9/11 than any other attack on our soil in history. To say the Cold War fears were greater than those now would seem ridiculous if you knew how many hours and days my neighbors work just to stop such a thing from happening again.

    May 5, 2011 at 11:33 pm | Report abuse |
  10. You dont get it

    now that im reading the story and the comments i see why everything being said makes no sense. you believe people were celebrating because fear was gone. they were celebrating because the arch-enemy of their homeland was eliminated. they have pride not relief. the news media are the ones talking about avoiding the "threats" all the time, Americans are the ones determined to face down the threats to keep our way of life and prove our country's mettle

    May 5, 2011 at 11:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Selfish

      OUR way of life? What about everyone elses? You were celebrating because all you've been told is how great the USA is, but seen failure after failure. Several generations have only ever read about how great a country the USA is. Of course you will celebrate when you can finally tell the world that we accomplished something we said we would...

      It is selfish to impinge on other cultures and countries for the sake of maintaining such a delusion. What happened on 9/11 was wrong, and the man responsible is rightly dead, but it isn't an achievement to celebrate over. I'll break out the champagne when the RIGHTS I was told about are given back, when religion and corporate interests don't dictate what is right and wrong... when people consider others instead of their own selfish needs.

      May 6, 2011 at 12:39 am | Report abuse |
    • You dont get it

      Yes, you lost your "right" to talk on the phone without being listened to and your "right" to watch TV without hearing about a war. The abuses in the past century that were perpetrated on a tiny fraction of the population for the sake of security were wrong, but they have not generally continued for long thanks to our system of governance. The fact is the United States has succeeded in containing its only real threat (USSR) and destroying its new enemy (al Qaeda) i don't believe the US is always right, I believe it right most often and that I owe this country everything for what it has given me. As a side note all 4 of my grandparents immigrated here; I understand the other cultures of the world and do not claim that the America is "the best". I do claim that this country has a right and, in fact, a prerogative to rejoice in an event that symbolizes the unseen accomplishments in the war against terror.

      May 6, 2011 at 1:01 am | Report abuse |
    • You dont get it

      oh, and in response to your question about other people's way of life, not only has the United States respected other cultures but has traditionally defended them from being usurped by would-be invaders. The only exception is when someone's "way of life" involves inhumane treatment of other people. Al-qaeda is an example. Our government is guided by ideals that many (not all) other countries simply do not have, when it strays from those ideals I am just as critical as anyone else.

      May 6, 2011 at 1:06 am | Report abuse |
  11. edjf378

    I was 11 when it happened in Sixth grade in a school of less than 300 kids. We had recess at 10 central and we weren't told until 10:30 a.m about 2 hours after the attacks. It doesn't seem like them not telling us till after morning recess seems like much, but now looking back being taught by a generation raised during the Cold War, many of the teachers really thought this was going to be our final recess and we should have had it in peace. I think an evil that forces people to fear such extremes shouldn't have a chance to exist.

    May 6, 2011 at 12:23 am | Report abuse |
  12. the truth

    let's get real. 9.11 was a tragedy. however, people are being waaay too dramatic over it. A lot of people were killed by some maniac but now not only is the government ready for these a holes, it managed to kill the a hole in charge. we should always remember those who lost their lives but we must not be haunted by them.

    May 6, 2011 at 12:27 am | Report abuse |
  13. 305

    i'm glad that the President isn't gloating over the kill like the rest of the country is. kill the sucker then move on to the next one.

    May 6, 2011 at 12:29 am | Report abuse |
  14. Joey

    Now I guess that Obama's in 7th Heaven since they murdered this purported Usama bin Laden and has the 2012 election sown up. Another 4 years of this worthless bozo!!! How sickening!!!

    May 6, 2011 at 12:51 am | Report abuse |
  15. algkbaslkvas

    this article is stupid.

    college students celebrate because they're college students. Getting drunk, starting riots, closing down streets, and causing havoc is just what college kids do. I heard it after each basketball and football game, after Obama got elected, and now after the death of Osama.

    We're just looking for excuses to start something. It's not because we're actually invested on the issues.

    May 6, 2011 at 12:59 am | Report abuse |
    • ha, almost believed it

      your not a college student. and when you were you didn't ever drink or cause havoc, could have just made the point w/o the lie

      May 6, 2011 at 1:21 am | Report abuse |
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