Four Years After the Attack, the Name Generation 9/11 Lives On, Now It Even Has Its Own Book by the Same Title

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Generation 9/11 was coined in 2001 and is still used in the media 4 years later. Its character however has changed from patriotism to civic engagement. A thought-provoking book by the same name captures that spirit in an entertaining and true story, set in Central America.

What Coupland’s Generation X was for the 1990s, Reissmann’s Generation 9/11 is for the new millennium, a book that captures the Zeitgeist of a generation.

The term Generation 9/11 was probably originally coined by Newsweek’s cover story in November, 2001. Newsweek hailed a new generation that had suddenly become politically involved (if only to show support for the war in Afghanistan), was socially aware, well informed, and civically active, when formerly it had been an apathetic, self-indulgent Generation Y. The Marquette Tribune followed suit with an article named: "From ashes of tragedy comes Generation 9/11" and it observed that "the generation that previously seemed directionless and without a fitting title now had one — Generation 9/11."

But the term wasn't received with enthusiasm, as Zach Jones wrote in the Yale Daily News in 2001: “That Newsweek expects Americans -- and college students at that -- to morph from TV-morons to policy wonks is ludicrous. We will not supplant "The West Wing" with "Larry King." We will not jettison "The Tonight Show" for "Nightline." And we will certainly not tune from TNN to CNN!" Well, maybe not to CNN, but to Comedy Central, and instead of watching "Nightline" many are now getting their news from "The Daily Show." Jones went on to say: "Killing over 4,000 people and catalyzing a war, the Sept. 11 attacks had an immense immediate magnitude. Their long-term effects, however, remain to be seen." Now, in 2005, we can indeed see the long-term effects of 9/11; it catalyzed not one but two wars; created an aggressive American foreign policy; caused numerous other terrorist attacks; curtailed civil liberties and spurned several scandals, only one of which received a name so far: the Abu Ghraib Prison scandal. The Rove-leak, and the WMD-Downing Street scandals haven’t received an official title yet.

Given these developments, the initial label of patriotism was not going to stick to Generation 9/11. As T. Eve Greenaway pointed out on the Alternet, Newsweek asserted that: "At one end of the polarized set of options is complete anti-political apathy. At the other is a flag-waving, government-job-seeking buy-in. If you don't believe in the ideas behind this war, this widely-read magazine indirectly implies, you don't belong in 'Generation 9-11.' " Such was the tone of the times; any criticism of the government was outright unpatriotic. Well, the times have changed and as Jon Stewart remarked recently, following the questioning of Bush’s Press Secretary Scott McClellan, over the leaked identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame: "We've secretly replaced the White House press corps with actual reporters."

While the general public and perhaps even the corporate media have possibly finally caught on, and support for the war in Iraq has plummeted, Generation 9/11 had been involved in the anti-War, anti-Bush and anti-globalization movement for some time. Perhaps a generation of TV-morons had indeed evolved into internet warriors, and become part of Eminem's Mosh, and it's not just that America’s youth vote was up 9.3% in the 2004 election, no, young people all over the world were marching against the war in Iraq; fought in the streets of Seattle, Cancun and Gleneagles to end corporate exploitation, and will soon march on Capitol hill to demand the impeachment of Bush. And unlike in the sixties, we now have the internet, we can get our news on, exchange information on blogs, and organise events globally.

Yet, while Generation 9/11 is battling corporate greed and its effects, it is also moving forward, in terms of alternatives. As CBS reported in July 2005: "9/11 Grads Choose Public Service." According to this report, young people graduating from prestigious American universities are forfeiting jobs on Wall Street to teach inner-city kids. Applications for Peace Corps were up 80%, and Teach for America experienced an increase of 40%. Interest in non-profit careers had more than doubled. Having travelled for years and working for, it is also my experience that volunteering overseas is now more popular than ever. According to Wilene Justilien, a math teacher in Washington DC, Generation 9/11 is “a generation that wants to improve the lives of others and is driven to succeed at that right now.“

Generation 9/11, the book, captures the spirit of that new global generation in a thought-provoking and true story, set in Central America. And it is going to appeal to youngsters, as it comes packaged in an entertaining and funny story that is both a search for true love, as well as discussion of alternatives to our current global system. In the words of Dr. Lorin Roche, author of Meditation 24/7: "You will laugh and cry as you see travel, love and politics intertwine. Tom's book takes you along a daring road of fact, unconscious imagery and intuition. At the end of which, we are left with the feeling that we have somehow touched the divine."

Thomas Reissmann, the author of Generation 9/11, was liberated by the collapse of socialism in East Germany, and subsequently travelled the world for eight years. He has studied Tourism Management in the UK and Australia; investigated the effects of tourism in Costa Rica; managed a hostel in New Zealand and currently works for For more information please visit

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Thomas Reissmann

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