Too Young to Understand, 'Generation 9/11' Embraces Media for Meaning

By Goodale, Gloria | The Christian Science Monitor, September 7, 2011 | Go to article overview

Too Young to Understand, 'Generation 9/11' Embraces Media for Meaning


Goodale, Gloria, The Christian Science Monitor


Many Americans who were too young to understand the events of 9/ 11 at the time are now using the avalanche of media coverage gain a deeper understanding of that brutal day in history.

On September 11, 2001, then-fourth-grader Joshua Habursky watched on his school library TV as the World Trade Center towers collapsed. Like most kids, he says, "I didn't really understand what was happening."

But now, Mr. Habursky, a sophomore at Washington & Jefferson College near Pittsburgh, has a deepening understanding of the events that unfolded on 9/11.

He has already watched a week's worth of 9/11 documentaries on the National Geographic Channel and organized a viewing Tuesday of a History Channel documentary about the special forces raid on Osama bin Laden's compound in Abottabad, Pakistan.

As the 10-year mark of the 9/11 attacks nears, Habursky and others like him in the media-literate "Generation 9/11," as it has been dubbed, are embracing the onslaught of media coverage to deepen their engagement with and understanding of the brutal day in US history.

"The sheer volume" of media has been very helpful, he says. "It has filled in details and fleshed out the day and its meaning so much more for me and my friends."

This is an extremely media-savvy generation, points out Chris Caruso, executive director of generationOn, the youth division of Points of Light Network, a nonprofit service organization. "They are extremely connected globally," and more engaged in events all over the planet than any other generation in history, he says.

Chloe Miller, a sophomore at California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, says she and her mother watched a documentary on TLC this past week. "I was shocked," she says, adding that this was the first time she'd seen actual footage of the towers being hit. "I just didn't understand before how horrible it really must have been and how much it hit home with people all over the country," she says.

Her mother, Nathalie Miller, points out that she and her husband made a special effort to shield Chloe and her younger brother, Noah, at the time. "I was traumatized watching the buildings fall and all the people looking for loved ones," she says. "I didn't want Chloe to have that imagery in her mind and have bad dreams."

Others were not shielded from the immediate coverage, but may have been too young to understand the historical significance of the unfolding events.

High school senior Lizi Vidar, who attends the North Hollywood High School's Zoo Magnet Center in Los Angeles, says her second- grade teacher turned on the classroom TV on the morning of 9/11, so she witnessed the coverage firsthand. …

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