Five Signs That You've Come of Age Since 9/11

1. You consider 9/11 the defining moment of your generation.

According to CNN, the university class of '07 will be filled with students who were prompted to think differently about the way they approached their education after 9/11. Many more students have taken the time to study the Middle East and Islam, than in years past. A number of students have also chosen majors like international relations and government, and hope to go into public service. Most, it seems, want to feel like they will have some positive effect on the world.

In August, Paramount Pictures changed the tagline to it's 9/11 "World Trade Center" specifically to target teenagers, making it "Every generation has a defining moment … This was ours."

It might sound canned, but it's not far from most of young people's perspectives. As one blogger from Youngpeoplefor.org put it, "In this world, events unfold on TV and don't feel [real] because they remind us of a movie; it isn't until the events are turned into a movie that things come full circle and finally feel real.

2. You're are not very confident about the success of the war on terrorism.

A recent Youthquery study shows that American youth believe that we will not succeed in the war on terror or in the war in Iraq. According to a PR Newswire article, "only 38 percent of teens trust the government in Washington to do what is right in the war on terrorism -- half the percentage that agreed with that statement following the 2001 tragedy (76 percent). Fewer youth currently feel assured that the government can prevent future attacks, and they are not optimistic that the war in Iraq will end any time in the near future."

And, as one young blogger points out, many youth find it especially difficult to trust leaders who keep changing their minds about the importance of catching Osama Bin Laden.

3. Unless you're conservative, in which case you believe the events of that day justify U.S. military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The 9/11: Never Forget Project, for instance, says it's goal is to "help college students unite their campuses by remembering the innocent victims of the terrorist attacks and strengthen [their] resolve to win the war that the Islamic terrorists launched against us." Representatives from over 150 campuses appear to have signed on.

In one red state, 60 percent of poll respondents under 30 said they would not try to avoid military service in the event of a draft.

4. If you're a student, you've gotten used to having less privacy.

Beginning only 10 days after Sept. 11, the department of education allowed the FBI to examine the financial aid records of college students targeted by the FBI in terrorism investigations. The joint effort was called Project Strike Back and ended shortly thereafter, but it was not reported on until last month -- almost five years later. And, while it is not likely to surprise many young people, a larger effort to make all students' "unit records" available to the government is also moving forward.

5. If you're an Arab-American or Muslim, you've been faced with some difficult choices.

The young men profiled in this recent Washington Post article are powerful examples of the way many young Muslim's lives have been changed since 9/11. In many cases, youth like them have had to choose whether to step up as representatives of their culture and act as a bridge, or to continue a strong tradition of isolationism.

Meanwhile, the terrorist attacks abruptly changed the act of wearing a headscarf into "a symbol of something dangerous, marking women who wear them as among the most obvious targets for those who deem the faith threatening."

… oh yeah, and pop music hasn't changed at all since 9/11.

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