9-11: What will be the defining news event for your kids?

I am teaching a digital media class at a local university, and I like to start the semester by asking the students what was the first big news event they remember as a kid? (We go on to discuss how that event would be covered differently now in the digital age than when they were little.)

For many of this generation in college now, 9-11 is their defining news event.

One student told how school was canceled for the day. Another said that the teacher listened to the radio describing the attacks the entire day. They remember watching the footage on the TV of the buildings being hit over and over again. And they remember going to war after 9-11.

They also remember the Columbine massacre in 1999 and the Clinton/Monica Lewinsky scandal, which broke around 1998. One student remembered Polly Klaas being taken (1993) because she grew up in the same area. (I remember a lot about the Atlanta child murders for that same reason.)

The Challenger explosion is a very clear memory for me. I also remember a lot about Ronald Regan being in office. I remember his shooting and watching a lot of his speeches and his meetings with the Soviets in Iceland.

Rose was just a baby during 9-11. I had left her with Michael that morning to go to the doctor for a bad cold. We heard the story on the radio at the doctor’s office, and I assumed it was a small prop plane that hit the first tower but saw differently as soon as I got home. Michael raced downtown to the office to get to work.

I asked my kids what news events they remember now. Rose didn’t really have one that stood out to her but Walsh said that little boy that killed himself because he was being bullied. (Walsh was almost 6 when that happened.—April 2009.) It’s amazing what sticks with someone.

What news events do your kids remember? What news events stick with you? Do your kids have recollections of 9-11?

33 comments Add your comment


September 11th, 2012
4:08 am

Let Us ALL hope and Pray for OUR Children’s sake that they find America in the Years to come, A place that really IS ALL of the wonderful things it claims to BE and not the divisive Nation it is NOW and has been for many Years.

An America that is Prosperous and truly thy Brother’s Keeper in Word & Deed.


September 11th, 2012
7:02 am

Mass layoffs, high unemployment, homes being taken back by the bank.

The first multi-raced (white and black) man to take the highest office in the nation, only to try and implement socialist policies that THEIR children will have to pay the debt on. A man who promised hope and change; then delivered none of the former and only the worst of the latter.

Sorry, but are really a journalism graduate?

September 11th, 2012
8:00 am

What a sentence – “They remember watching the footage on the TV of the buildings being hit over and over again”.

So, as FCM is indicating, do you really want to support a man who has provided you with your “fel good” position when you voted for him and then have been disappointed ever since?

And, on topic, we remember Pearl Harbor, Alan Shepherd, John Glenn, Neil Armstrong, practicing for missle attacks (lived in FL as the time), Kent State, Woodstock, Watergate, Nixon resigning, Reagan getting shot, and 9-11-01…


September 11th, 2012
8:06 am

Mine (almost 12) says he remembers Obama being elected and Osama Bin Laden being killed.


September 11th, 2012
8:45 am

My first major news event, was when man walked on the moon. And every Apollo mission, we watched the rockets blast off. My father made it a point for the entire family to watch as these things were happening. He would wake us up at 5:30 to watch the Apollo rockets blast off. He made us come inside from playing to watch man walk on the moon. He always said “you need to come here and watch history being made”.

Those words are always in my mind. And I’m thankful he made us watch all that!!! He’s not here anymore, passed away in 1993. He is surely rolling in his grave at what America has become. A “black” president, and socialism right around the corner.


September 11th, 2012
9:08 am

I remember watching Neil Armstrong on the moon: Black and White TV.

On 9/11 I was in a room filled with children, in Dacula GA. The teachers were running in and out of the hallway. I could see the chaos. I was doing my best to remain calm as the children were watching me and I did not want to upset them. I had NO idea what was happening but found out later.

@ FCM…how do we get people to understand that NO MATTER WHAT PROMISES ARE MADE, if our country is bankrupt, they will not be fulfilled? I am floored with the level of misunderstanding that we can keep giving. People actually think the government HAS money. Um…we send it to the government.

Yesterday, I heard this on the radio:

IF we did allow everyone to have the SAME amount of everything, in 5 years the same people would have more and the same people would have less.

I am NOT an economics wizard. I do understand the concept of earning and spending. I also understand the concept of taking care of those who are less fortunate and taking care of my own family by going to work! Many Americans do not!


September 11th, 2012
9:42 am

Who remembers Fen-Phen?

We have a friend whose sister has always been a little on the white trash side. Never good with money….multiple children from multiple fathers….standard redneck stuff.

Anyway, she had some heart conditions caused by Fen-Phen back in the mid-90’s. ( She has no serious long term effects now by the way.) She was granted a SEVEN-FIGURE settlement.

What do you think she did with the money? She spent it all; new house, new Corvette etc. She’s broke again and could not keep any of the toys she bought. Mind you, she paid for these things in cash; meaning that she ran up so much other debt that her creditors had to take her assets.

Never has there been a truer proverb than a fool and his money are soon parted.


September 11th, 2012
9:43 am

On topic, great question TWG, I’ll ask my daughter this afternoon and get back to you.


September 11th, 2012
9:52 am

jarvis….my ex has me back in court. I keep having to go into debt with lawyers. I am really not sure which of us is the fool in that one….probably me for saying “I do” when we got married!

@ MJG… you cannot argue logic with people who make decisons based on emotion. Mitt Romney comes across as cold and unemotional (I would suspect in private he is neither). Obama, like Clinton, smiles talks about things like having a beer, playing basketball, or raising his kids…on an emotional level he relates to people. Heck, even his wife said Obama is “like you.” (even my 12 yo knows that INSIDE where it counts he is nothing like her).

As to the redistribution of wealth…

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that [is] thy neighbour’s


September 11th, 2012
10:23 am

My first was JFK assignation. My children – Challenger explosion, Princess Diana, Columbine, 9.11, and so many others. It’s like a tv show playing over and over in your head.


September 11th, 2012
10:31 am

I do not understand why we “celebrate” death…..

Why do we celebrate the anniversay of Elvis’ death?

Why do we celebrate the anniversary so many killed on 9-11?

Why do we celebrate death?


September 11th, 2012
10:41 am

@ Why? It is not a celebration of their death in the case of 9/11, Columbine, the Amish girls, it is a rembrance of their lives being taken through the inexcusable acts of other people.

Now as to why people celebrate Elvis, Michael Jackson, etc’s anniversary of their death (or their birth) I have no idea. Why did we celebrate Julia Child’s 100th birthday….she died before she reached it!

We don’t celebrate the death….we celebrate the life that came before it.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

September 11th, 2012
10:55 am

Some of the college students remembered Princess Diana’s death also.


September 11th, 2012
11:01 am

@why I don’t believe it is a question of ‘celebrating’ death. It is just that death involves losing forever something held very dear and there is an innate desire in humans to want to respect and remember the memory of those lost. Nobody is ‘celebrating’ anything today that I am aware of. The ceremonies to be held today are pretty somber from what I have heard. However, as time passes, memories fade, and emotional attachments decrease what was a remembrance can evolve into a more celebratory occasion. It is just how we are built as humans.


September 11th, 2012
11:03 am

I remember President Kennedy being shot; MLK; Civil rights; and everything since the early 60’s…..

Once Again

September 11th, 2012
11:10 am

Bernie – First you say “A place that really IS ALL of the wonderful things it claims to BE and not the divisive Nation it is NOW and has been for many Years.”

And then this “An America that is Prosperous and truly thy Brother’s Keeper in Word & Deed.”

Wow, and you wonder why america is so divided. Maybe its simply because america has decided to be its brother’s keeper. Hey buddy, stay the hell out of my life, keep your government out of my life, and let me live my life the way I see fit so long as I am not violating your freedoms and liberties.

Why is that so hard for you to understand?? That is how the rest of the world would like to live as well.

The US has stuck its nose into the worlds’ collective business for at least 100 years with bloodstained results for the rest of the world. We butchered natives in the Phillipines becasue they wanted independence from both Spain and the conquering US. We invaded Cuba over what was likely an accidental explosion aboard the Maine. We sent illegal arms to Britain against our neutrality treaty on the Lusitania thus drawing us in WW1. We attacked Japanese troops in Manchuria and blockaded the island of Japan thus provoking Pearl Harbor. We have meddled in the middle east since the beginning of the 20th century, propped up bloodthirst dictators who murdered their own people. We overthrew the democratically elected leader of Iran and imposed the Shah on the nation and then were upset when the Iranians got rid of him and attacked our embassy. We supported Saddam, we supported Ghaddaffi, we support Israel no matter what they do in the region. We stationed troops in the Muslin holy land of Saudi Arabia so that we could attack Iraq. We imposed an embargo on Iraq that killed 1.5 million people including 500,000 children (and Madeline Albright appeared on 60 minutes and said that killing all those kids was “worth it”) and then according to the government story, Osama then attacked us on 9-11 and we were shocked.

America is never going to return to its roots until we have the courage to look at how much blood is covering those roots and decide that the leaders that brought all this bloodshed to the rest of the world were horrible and that we will not repeat these mistakes.

Sadly Obama and Romney want more killing (including the assassinations of americans without due process) so the future looks grim.

What we learned from 9-11 is that we learned ABSOLUTELY NOTHING

Still waiting

September 11th, 2012
11:12 am

Personally I think the major news story will be when the real truth about 9-11 is revealed. Not holding my breath.


September 11th, 2012
11:16 am

My first major news event that I recall vividly was the Challenger explosion. We usually watched the launches live, but for some reason we skipped that one (odd considering Christa McAuliffe was on board). My teacher was pulled out of the room for a few minutes during our reading time, and then came back and told us what had happened. We were all shocked.

11 years ago, I was working my first post-college job in Midtown. One of my co-workers came in and asked if we’d heard a plane hit the WTC. Like TWG, I assumed it was a small prop plane. We turned on the TV in the break room and realized it was much, much worse. We watched the second plane hit live. The rest of the morning was spent fielding frantic phone calls from my mother making sure I was OK (and still OK). We were eventually evacuated as we were working in one of the tallest buildings in Atlanta. I spent the rest of the day glued to the TV in my apartment.

My kids were only 1 when Obama was elected, and likely won’t remember Osama bin Laden dying either. To date, their biggest memory has probably been the Olympics.

Jenna K

September 11th, 2012
11:44 am

I remember watching the Gulf War on TV. It was almost like entertainment, watching the scuds, news conferences and everyone talking about it. Now war on TV is no big deal so we don’t watch!

Every experience is new to kids so their lasting reaction will be largely based on our reaction. It’ll be something we’re shocked by so not something we can predict.

Old Man

September 11th, 2012
11:52 am

Bobby and Martin. Space program. Uncle Walter declaring we’ve lost in Vietnam.


September 11th, 2012
12:03 pm

Jenna K – The Gulf War was specifically orchestrated for our entertainment. Everyone in the media was in on it. CNN practically became the official government mouthpiece as a result of that war. It was clearly the first blow to the intelligence of the american citizens and it essentially served the purpose of getting americans ready to enjoy many more wars to come in the middle east. By keeping the footage sanitary, the horrors hidden, and the coverage equivalent to playing a video game we were all anaesthetized to the horrors we were committing in the middle east. Had the news media not wanted to stay on the good side of the government and had acted more like they did when they covered the harsh realities of Vietnam, maybe more folks would have taken to the streets to demand an end. But they didn’t and Jr. saw Afghanistan and Iraq following 9-11 as something everyone would embrace (like the sheeple we have become).


September 11th, 2012
12:04 pm

I VIVIDLY remember the Kennedy assassination. I had just turned 7, and was in the 1st grade. We were sent home, and I walked to my babysitter’s house, since my mom was a teacher. I remember watching the TV, and watching my babysitter sobbing when they announced they he was dead. A long weekend of no cartoons and constant coverage. We lived in Virginia, and my parents took me up to DC after church on that Sunday for the lying-in-state, and we stood in line for six hours in the cold to file by the casket just before 9 pm. Very moving, very impressive and definitely burned in my memory for all time. As we were leaving, there was a shuffle as they were holding the line, and a woman holding a little girl’s hand walked by with a lot of men surrounding her holding people firmly (but politely) to the side — the woman scared me to death, because she was wearing all black, with a black veil over her face. Of course, it was Jacqueline Kennedy and Caroline. Then we were out of school on Monday for the funeral. A couple of months later, we revisited DC to visit his grave, the one that was before they moved him to the current site in Arlington.

I remember the consternation when Martin Luther King was shot, and then when Bobby Kennedy was shot six weeks later. My parents were reeling with all the shootings, trying to make sense of it all.

I was breathless at the first landing on the moon — followed the entire space program carefully, and loved watching launches, etc. in school. Was glued to the TV for a couple of days, and collected all the memorabilia having to do with it — still have that scrapbook, somewhere!

I was at a business lunch in a restaurant in West Palm Beach having lunch when the Challenger mission launched. The restaurant had it on the TV, and we stopped briefly to glance at the launch, then turned back to our lunch. I just remember continuing to watch it for a moment, and then gasping as the explosion took place. The rest of the restaurant became silent as everyone stared at the TV – the speculation began, wondering if they were able to escape, if the astronauts were protected by the shuttle, etc. etc. The rest of the day was spent glued to the radio in our office.

And, of course, 9/11 . . .


September 11th, 2012
12:05 pm

Ironically the first major news item i recall is Elvis’ death followed by LONG lines at gas stations in the 70s. Then Johnassburg (I stopped drinking kool aid).

Misery sells papers….so the media loves to report on it.


September 11th, 2012
12:12 pm

As of right now here are the AJCs latest headlines: (I see 1 that could be viewed as postive….the rest are all misery)

Premiums for family health plans hit $15,745
New leader for Clayton schools
New stadium could top $1.2 billion
Wrestling legend collapses on camera
Influential college rankings called inadequate
Basketball coach out at Milton
Storm slams into Newfoundland
Police probe brawl between TGI Friday’s waitresses
Child struck, killed in driveway in Auburn
Driver killed in fiery plunge off I-75 identified
Cops: Woman beat grandchild, 3, to death
Sexual assault reported at Georgia Gwinnett


September 11th, 2012
12:31 pm

i go back as far as remembering kennedy assassination, and then all the other turbulent times during the 60’s and forward. i grew up in baltimore, i remember the riots when king was assassinated as well as rfk. remember when wallace was shot campaigning. when i think about it, there has been a lot that has happened in our country just in those years since the 60’s. gas rationing, energy crisis, wars, police actions, the nightly count of lives lost during viet nam that the news reported, watergate, nixon, agnew, aids epidemic, on and on.

what happened on 9/11 cut me to the core. NEVER in my lifetime had our country been so tragically attacked, so many lives lost, so much evil. it’s a completely different world now. not sure about it. i so miss the carefree days. but we should never forget 9/11.

i’ve been out of work since 7/1, have applied for over 90 jobs. never thought i’d be doing this in my mid 50’s. i believed in the “american dream”. what we have now is a nighmare.

my question is, were is all the patriotism? were are the proudly displayed stars and stripes? my house is only house in subdivision where flag is flied every day. how quickly we forget and return to “normal” life. we have to remember, it’s not all about “us” as a single entity, it’s about “we the people…”


September 11th, 2012
1:00 pm

Although I don’t personally remember the attack on Pearl Harbor, I visited Pearl Harbon when when I was 11. I’ll never forget the USS Arizona memorial. It definately left a lasting impact on me….

I remember seeing a woman crying at the memorial, where all the names are printed. I asked my Dad why would she be crying, and he told me because she probably lost a loved one during the attack. That hit me like a lead balloon.

I remember VietNam. I remember my neighbors’ husbands going off to war.


September 11th, 2012
1:08 pm

Challenger explosion and Christa McAullife. That was traumatizing. I didn’t watch much TV “news” before then.


September 11th, 2012
1:23 pm

Once Again @ 11:10 am – You need to go and see someone about your Anger issues. My comment about being THY Brother’s keeper was a reference for we As Americans should care and treat each other more Humanely and with care. treat each other as one would want to be treated. No more hatred because of skin color, sexual orientation,economics and station in life. We All should push to be a better people and more loving toward each other. Strive to be more tolerant and understanding of our many neighbors around us.

As an African American citizen of this Great Nation witnessing the day of September 11 and the day following has been the only day I have ever witnessed such a coming together as a Nation. The event was surreal and astonishing! at the end of that 48 hour period…we were back to our old selves. Selfishly Hating as before…the same as we are, this very DAY!


September 11th, 2012
2:21 pm

@Bernie – you can thank YOUR President for where we are today. He has divided this great nation. His goal is to divide and conquer. we simply cannot tolerate 4 more years of this.


September 11th, 2012
6:00 pm

My first news memory was Reagan’s inauguration and the Iran hostages being released. My Mom, Sister, I were all sick on the couch watching TV. I remember my Dad had to go to leave for work and he brought home Burger King for dinner. I was six years old.


September 11th, 2012
7:21 pm

My ~7 am never showed up, Theresa.


September 11th, 2012
10:54 pm

@Mayhem- you are completely ignorant. Also to DB- I was touched by your personal account of President Kennedy’s death. That is such a sad, yet historical event for a child to have seen up close.


September 12th, 2012
12:14 pm

Another vivid memory for me was the start of Desert Storm. I was 11, and I remember sitting in the floor of our living room watching the news and crying because I really didn’t have a grasp on what “war” meant in the 1990’s (I was assuming it would be similar to the 19040’s – we’d just finished studying WWII in history). I remember my mom having to calm me down and tell me it would be OK. Kind of strange now to think it only lasted a few weeks. But to me, it was huge.

I also remember watching us roll into Iraq live on TV not long after I got married. Surreal when you think about it.