Most of them were not walking when what has come to be known as 9-11 happened, yet the cataclysm that changed this nation in so many ways has also helped define the post-911 generation.
The planes crashing into the buildings, the collapsing towers, and the people jumping out of buildings to avoid burning to death – they've seen it all. They also listened to the desperate phone calls from the towers and saw the misery of people who lost family and friends who worked there.
Patriot Day is one of the most significant history lessons they've learned at Palestine High School. Seniors spoke frankly about 9-11 and its impact on their generation Monday.
“We watched videos and interviews with people who saw what happened, and we reflect on the events throughout the week,” said Isabel Garcia, 17.
This began when the students were in junior high and it has continued each year since.
Garcia remembers crying when she watched the videos in junior high.
“It was really sad,” said Kosi Odiaka, 17.
“It was a tragic and horrific day for everybody,” said Montrezz “Petey” Towns, 18.
Despite seeing presentations of the terrible events for the past six years – from the seventh grade on – the students said they were not too young to watch the presentations, and they do not live in fear of a terrorist attack.
“It gives me a sense of pride to know that we've been able to bounce back,” said Grant Attaway, 17, an Eagle Scout who visited the National September 11 Memorial and the One World Trade Center in 2017.
At 1,776 feet, the One World Trade Center is the tallest building in North America.
To Attaway, rebuilding a taller, stronger building is a sign of America's strength.
They think that some in their generation 'don't care about much,' while the others are afraid of what the future holds.
“We don't know what lies ahead,” said Jude Odiaka, 17.
Some sociologists and historians are searching for a definition of the post 9-11 generation, sometimes called the 9-11 generation.
“It seems logical to me to call America's newest, youngest generation, Gen 9/11,” said Ann Fishman, writing for Marketing Insights, a publication of the American Marketing Association.
One of the hallmarks of this generation is our protection of them, Fishman argues, resulting from tracking devices on their smart phones, credit card purchases, and beefed-up security in their schools and airports.
Yet, if they are “Gen 9-11,” it's not the only history lesson they've learned. Towns said Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation was far more significant.
In fact, their historical perspective may be stronger than those of previous generations.
“If there's one thing I would say to the generation who went through all of it, I would say 'thank you,' “ Kosi Odiaka said. “Now, we have a better defense system.”