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. BUTT!

    I am not for Obama but we should give him a break he is our president, and he did take out a problem before it became another 911 in regards to our trains.

    May 6, 2011 at 1:06 am | Report abuse |
  2. Trevor

    Still waiting on the evidence....

    May 6, 2011 at 1:50 am | Report abuse |
  3. michaelfury

    This is the Bogeyman whose photo was broadcast on a split screen beside the still-burning WTC towers by the corporate networks on the morning of September 11, 2001. Before the towers were felled he was already fingered and imprinted on the public mind as the “mastermind” of the attacks.

    Notice anything missing from the FBI’s description of this man?

    How often have you heard the US government or its talking heads mention the fact that the FBI never “wanted” Osama bin Laden for the crime of 9/11?

    Did Osama not confess his involvement on video for the world to see and hear? You remember–the one the Pentagon was kind enough to translate for us. Was that not enough to indict him?

    If there was not enough evidence to secure a grand jury indictment of bin Laden for 9/11, was there yet enough to justify the bombing and decade-long occupation of Afghanistan with its attendant thousands of killed and maimed and mentally battered in pursuit of the “Evil One”?


    May 6, 2011 at 8:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Rip William Cooper


      Think again. Watch the video and tell me Osama bin laden was responsible for 9/11. I was 28 when 9/11 happened. I was not a child nor was I what I consider an adult, being an adult at 38 now I have grown a lot since that time. It affected me and many others as a terrifying event in history for what I'd seen in my life. I was in high school during the 90's when troops were being sent to the middle east for desert storm and I had a good chance of being drafted had that war not ended and that was a huge fear for me as well being 18. this bin laden killing has brought me back to feeling the fear and terror of the 9/11 attack. But with details that have come out I'm not entirely convinced Bin Laden was behind that attack. I believe bin laden should have been prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law for his crimes but killing the man is nothing to rejoice about because it caused more hate toward the USA and our people. he is more powerful dead as a martyr then if he was alive and all of the younger generations do not have the experience or the proper understanding of the situation to see that this is nothing to be happy about, it is something to fear greatly because the USA has now given al Qaeda an excuse to kill more Americans and bring more terror to our homeland. There are many Americans who feel the same way that I do I'm not alone. this event may be one step forward but it's also two steps back. Look how long it took us to get back to "normal" here in the states, now the wrath of terrorist groups has been sparked once again and I'm worried about the fate of our people. there is nothing to be pleased about with our current situation because more children will lose parents, more parents will lose children and the cycle will not end anytime soon.

      May 6, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Diana

    Do they think we're stupid!?! Osama wouldn't have been upstairs without a gun after hearing the gun fire. Do they really bury all their dead at sea? I don't think so. I would believe Osama's family over what our government said. No way would he have been upstairs while there was gunfire going on outside and downstairs. I'm really sick of the government not telling us the truth.

    May 6, 2011 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Joey

      I feel the same way,Diana. In fact,the true Usama bin Laden most probably died years ago from kidney failure and this was just a bin Laden look alike whom they slaughtered and thus the reason he was not taken alive to hide that fact!

      May 6, 2011 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kassi

      i agree with Diana and Joey!! why would they even kill him? i say shoot the hell out of his legs and take him as a prisoner and tourture his ass!!

      May 6, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Gordon Sullivan

    Why is Cnn milking a dead cow? What part of no photos does the network not understand.
    Asking every Tom, Dick, and Harry about their opinion is not news but a waste of my time.
    The President has spoken and thats it.

    May 6, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
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