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How Young Adults View The 20th Anniversary of 9/11

Lauren Sigfusson

Saturday marks the 20th anniversary of 9/11, a tragic day when two planes hijacked by al-Qaida terrorists crashed into the World Trade Center. A third plane hit the Pentagon just outside Washington, D.C., and a fourth crashed in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. For many older adults, 9/11 remains a vivid memory. But a growing number of younger adults are too young to remember the landmark event.

At UWM’s Student Union this week, several students shared what 9/11 means to them. Lily Conchi, who's 18 years old, was born after 9/11. But she said the anniversary is still significant.

Lily Conchi
Simone Cazares
Lily Conchi

“I mean, I think we’ve made a lot of progress since then, obviously, but I think it still hurts and affects a lot of people,” Conchi said. “I think for our generation, it’s kind of more remembering and kind of honoring it, and I think for older generations, it’s kind of almost like reliving it. I think it impacts them in a different way.”

Heather Jaklin was in middle school when 9/11 happened. She remembers what it felt like to watch the tragic day unfold at school.

"I remember when teachers still had the carts on TVs, and they had wheeled them into the room for us to watch. It [was] very surreal because you didn't really understand. You could see the concepts of what's unfolding, but to know the sheer numbers and everything, you kind of realize that for my generation, how many issues and struggles we've had put upon us," Jaklin said. "We had that and the financial crisis and various other wars and COVID-19 and everything else. Now it's just so hard to look back sometimes on memories of your generation and things that have happened to you. It's not so uplifting anymore."

Giovanni Claudio was a year old when 9/11 happened. He said talking with his parents about what they remember from 9/11 helped him understand the day's significance.

Giovanni Claudio
Simone Cazares
Giovanni Claudio

"For people of my generation, we were still pretty young when that event happened, and like some were probably just babies and were told later that it happened. So it's not really personal to us because we never really got to witness it compared to people who did, like my parents," Claudio said. "They knew some people that were in New York, and they were terrified that they were part of the attack. Luckily they weren't, but to them, it was a lot more personalized because they were old enough to understand what was going on. Meanwhile, people my age at that time were still in their cribs or just learning how to walk."

Nicholas Brooks, who's 19 years old, was born after 9/11 but said he believes it is important for everyone to honor those who lost their lives that day.

"I totally think that our generation, most of us being very, very young maybe one or two or not even born yet, it's very significant because the people who were alive, and even if you were young, just being alive during that time and actually seeing it happen and hearing everybody talk about it — there's a big distinction between actually living it and learning about it afterward," Brooks said. "I think that's a big discrepancy, but I think that can be bridged by talking with those who lived through it or who experienced it."

In 2021, Simone Cazares was WUWM's Eric Von Broadcast Fellow. She later became a WUWM reporter.
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