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20th anniversary of 9/11 reveals questions about younger generation’s perception of terror attacks

By John Ramos

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    HAYWARD, California (KPIX) — Saturday marks the 20th anniversary of 9/11, the worst terrorist attack in US history. But for young people who didn’t experience that fearful morning, the narrative of the tragedy may be changing.

The morning of September 11th, 2001 was a watershed moment in America. Most of the students on the campus of Cal State East Bay either hadn’t been born yet or were too young to remember it.

“It’s something you hear in school, in classes when the time’s coming up. I’m guessing it was a very terrifying experience,” said 18-year old Samantha Romero.

As the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks approach, there is now an entire generation of young people who have no personal remembrance of the tragedy. They only know what they’ve been told.

“What I’ve been told, it’s like, when 9/11 happened, that was kind of the end of the 90’s, in a way,” said 21-year-old student Eshaq Jamdar.

Or, in some cases, they’re only aware of what happened afterwards.

“I do remember a lot of the kids at school would make fun of me for being Arabic. They would call me, like, a terrorist,” explained Sarah Blake, who is Lebanese.

Dr. Vahid Fozdar teaches an Islamic history class. At the time, he thought 9/11 would open a dialogue about America’s relationship with the Islamic world.

“And yet, over the 20 years, I’ve seen that interest in actually studying it academically has not really increased, strangely enough.” he said.

After the attack, everything changed. Travel was restricted, security increased, civil liberties were curtailed and America went to war. That made sense to those who experienced the terror, but today’s youth are skeptical about how the memory of 9/11 is being used.

“It’s never about the people who actually suffered it first hand,” said 25-year-old Keagan Echols. “It’s always about, ‘Remember it so we can fight ’em over there,’ you know?”

Mickey Huff teaches journalism at Diablo Valley College. He thinks young people may have a different sense of history having not experienced the fear firsthand.

“The study of history involves inquiry and asking questions,” said Huff. “And after the 9/11 attacks, asking those kinds of questions was not easy.”

Those who were born after 9/11 will write the future history of it. And it may sound different than the one we hear today.

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