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Opinion: What is 9/11 to GenZ?

By: Thomas Stevenson

My name is Thomas Stevenson, and I am part of GenZ. A quick Google search will tell you about my generation. We are part of the social media age, have too much avocado toast, and we feel entitled to everything under the sun. Personally, I do not have avocado toast often and feel like social media is a bit much at times. However, I can see why that image of our generation has been made.

Entitlement runs rampant in a world without major problems because anything close to a hardship can make us feel overwhelmed. The truth is, if you are a member of GenZ and live in the United States, you do not have many major problems. Of course, there is always room for improvement and the nation could always be better. We deal with everything and cope because life is full of hardship. However, when I speak of problems, I am talking about starvation, mortal illness, and war. For the most part, we do not have these to deal with in our personal lives. The epidemic with COVID-19 may have come close, but it has not had so much trauma associated with it for the entire nation. Yes, we may post online about tragedies happening overseas and may feel strongly for those who have it worse off, but we do not personally cope with Russian missile strikes happening on and off throughout the day.

9/11 memorial lights

9/11 was a flashbulb memory for people who were alive at the time. A flashbulb memory is “a vivid, enduring memory associated with a personally significant and emotional event” (APA Dictionary). This is why, when you ask a parent where they were on 9/11, they can tell you about their exact situation in full detail.

The reason for such a memory is because we thought we were safe. We as a nation had become -and are still - accustomed to a peaceful world. Evil exists in the world, and 9/11 was an expression of such malevolence cropping up in times of peace.

I will readily admit that I am guilty of this thinking, that things such as 9/11 “can’t happen here.” However, they very much can, and we should be cognizant of that. We cannot be prepared for evil to strike if we do not believe it can strike here. That does not mean to go bury yourself in a bunker and sit there until everything falls apart. The point is, even though GenZ has no flashbulb memory of this event, we should still remember it, and not in the “never forget” hashtag sort of way. We should see it as a reminder of the evils in the world and to be grateful for our amazing society’s accomplishments in spite of that.

So, what is 9/11 to GenZ? For me it is a marked day on which we should forget our differences, ourselves, and remember to be grateful for the things allotted to us. We will be a better nation if we do so.

The Cougar Chronicle is an independent student-run publication for the Brigham Young University community

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