9/11 beats COVID as biggest news event of the last 50 years

The overwhelming majority of People nonetheless see the occasions of September 11, 2001, as the most important news event of the last 50 years, beating even the world COVID-19 pandemic, in accordance with a brand new unique Harris Ballot carried out for Quick Firm.

Amongst individuals who say they’re accustomed to 9/11, 87% agree that the terrorist assaults on the World Commerce Middle, the Pentagon, and Shanksville, Pennsylvania, had been the No. 1 news event in the last half-century. The sentiment cuts throughout gender and age traces and consists of individuals who weren’t but born and people who are too younger to recollect the occasions of that crisp Tuesday morning. That’s the response of 83% of males, 90% of girls, and 85% of respondents ages 18 to 34, which covers a piece of Gen Zers.

As the United States commemorates the twentieth anniversary of September 11, the affect of that day remains to be apparent—from elevated safety to a still-palpable Islamophobia to radio commercials about the 9/11 victims fund deadline and news tales about Guantanamo Bay detainees.


For individuals who didn’t dwell by the assassination of President John Kennedy, a key marker for child boomers, this was a generation-defining second. That the 9/11 assaults occurred on U.S. soil—land that remained untouched by two world wars and hasn’t seen such combating since the Civil Struggle—made all of it the extra dramatic.

“The deliberate cruelty is why. It creates a powerful emotional connection. The menace may be very direct,” says Dr. Melanie Greenberg, a San Diego-based medical psychologist and writer of The Stress-Proof Brain. “With terrorism, it’s having an enemy. It’s one thing our thoughts clings to. It’s somebody who desires to destroy us. Earlier than 9/11, we felt fairly protected in the U.S. Terrorism was fairly minor. We felt invulnerable.”

The speedy shock of the event registered in a manner that the present COVID-19 pandemic—a far deadlier disaster—doesn’t. The ache of 9/11 unleashed a brand new sort of horror—sudden, acute, and sharp—whereas the virus wreaking havoc round the planet is extra of a gradual burn. The start was a profound rapier, but it surely’s morphed right into a long-term severity that consistently golf equipment us.

“Terrorism, you don’t know the place that’s. There’s no actual property,” explains Greenberg, who recollects breastfeeding her daughter throughout 9/11 and is aware of individuals who had been presupposed to be on flights or in the World Commerce Middle, however at the last minute weren’t. “[With] COVID, you’ll be able to have security if you happen to’re in your own home. There’s a bit extra management of your publicity. Additionally, it’s not as deliberate. It’s a illness. It’s not private. It’s not somebody concentrating on you. It’s not tribal.”

The photographs of 9/11 had been captured primarily by professionals. Some—the ash-covered individuals fleeing from the World Commerce Middle, the smoldering Pentagon, the second aircraft hitting the second tower, the Shanksville crater and the heartbreaking “Falling Man” image—are seared into the minds of individuals who weren’t alive when it occurred.

Gabe Zoda, a Hofstra College junior was born two days after 9/11. He calls the day “tremendous essential” and factors to the shifting footage of the tragedy, the super loss of life, and the unity and resilience People confirmed in the aftermath as key the explanation why it resonates with him. And as a Queens, New York, resident, Zoda went to highschool with youngsters whose dad and mom had been New York Metropolis firefighters and law enforcement officials.

“Although I wasn’t alive doesn’t imply it doesn’t imply something. It didn’t have an effect on simply New York, however the entire world . . . and the legacy lives on to right now in 2021,” he says. “Simply having the ability to see all the video from that day and be capable to take it aside, it at all times felt to me a little bit extra actual. Although I’ve seen the Challenger [explosion] and the assassination of John F. Kennedy and all that stuff, the magnitude of stuff and visuals makes it extra actual. Like dang, that’s large.”


The weighted Quick Firm-Harris Ballot of 1,053 U.S. adults was carried out between August 20 and 24. In the ballot, 92% of respondents mentioned they had been accustomed to the occasions of 9/11, together with particulars such as who carried out assaults, the response by the U.S., and the quantity of deaths.