You have to go back to the fitful late 1960s and early 1970s to find a time when monumental news headlines arrived with the regularity they do today, in these months since September 11.

During the Vietnam era, America was upended daily with headlines that properly marked those historic times:

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"Martin Luther King Is Slain in Memphis"

"Police Battle Demonstrators in the Streets"

"300,000 at Folk-Rock Fair Camp Out in a Sea of Mud"

"Miss Hearst Says She Joins Terrorists"

"Nixon Resigns--He Urges a Time of 'Healing'"

"4 Kent State Students Killed by Troops"

Of course, the overarching themes of those days were indistinguishable from the youth movement that was growing its hair, shutting down campuses and streets, wearing crazy clothes, challenging conformity, experimenting with drugs, and blasting revolutionary rock music.

Well, America is once again in the throes of historic times. The headlines strain to capture the gravity of it all as the riveting story unfolds with an intriguing cast: spooky al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, reactionary attorney general John Ashcroft, suspected "twentieth hijacker" Zacarious Moussaoui, glassy-eyed John Walker, Flight 93 hero Todd Beamer (not to mention the daily "Portraits of Grief" in The New York Times). Meanwhile, giant issues like war, terrorism, and civil rights seep into everything we observe and do.

Thematically, September 11 America is much different from Vietnam America. There's no influential youth movement this time around, and while the Vietnam era featured "revolution" and "counterculture," September 11 America is more about patriotism, even family. However, the dramatic feeling that, since September 11, things are somehow meaningful and historic is undeniable. For the high-fructose corn syrup generation whose Watergate revolved around a blowjob and whose counterculture is on sale at Urban Outfitters, the sudden significance of events is a welcome rush.

Because young people reflected the core meaning of the previous historic epoch, we thought we'd touch down with today's youth to see if we could get a glimpse of what "America Strikes Back" might mean. While they are neither the catalyst nor the centerpiece of it all, today's youth are the folks who will be shaped by the war's unfastened trajectory most profoundly.

During a climactic week which featured the release of the bin Laden tape and fierce fighting between American troops and al-Qaeda regulars in Tora Bora, The Stranger hit local college campuses to assess the impact at post-teen Ground Zero. We handed out over 200 surveys.--Josh Feit


Why aren't you over there?

"I have a life that's very distant from 'there.' I don't cross paths with the reality of it on a daily basis. This might be a cop-out answer, but it's the best I have." Male, 23, didn't vote

"Does the U.S. Army really need a 150-pound Econ. major right now? Not really." Male, 22, voted for Gore

"I don't believe enough in the politics and leaders to risk my life. I have too many issues with our population's opinions on various topics (especially our ignorant views on foreign affairs) to risk my life to protect such ignorance." Female, 20, voted for Gore

"I am in college and want to get my degree." Female, 21, voted for Bush

"I am not capable of killing or contributing to death even if we say it is justified. Yet I am not objecting to those who are capable of fighting for the U.S. way of life." Female, 19, voted for Gore


What do you make of John Walker, the 20-year-old U.S. citizen who joined the Taliban?

"If he's sticking up for what he believes in, that's something to think about." Female, 20, voted for Gore

"What the hell was he thinking? What do his parents think? Why would he be behind an attack that would hurt his fellow citizens, maybe even his parents? This guy is a freak and I don't think he should be let back in this country. He is a disgrace to Americans." Female, 18, voted for Bush


Do you divide the world into before and after 9/11? What's different for you between the two worlds?

"Yeah, pre-9/11 I was just cynical, and post-9/11 I'm even more cynical." Male, 20, voted for Gore

"Pre: booming economy, game shows, reality TV, public scandals (Condit);

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Post: layoffs and bankruptcies, flags, pride, charity." Male, 19, voted for Gore


Have you experienced any emotions in the last three months that you've never experienced before (e.g., patriotism, terror, uncertainty)?

"Actually I've always been very patriotic until the events, and then I started to question our country and its system." Female, 18, voted for Nader

"Slight trepidation at flying, but nothing too extreme. School has been a bigger worry than foreign policy. I am nervous about my brother-in-law who is in the Army, and concerned about future movements in this action." Female, 20, voted for Gore

"I've been wary and skeptical about [the credibility of] news broadcasts that demonizes the enemy." Male, 19, voted for Gore


How has 9/11 and the war changed your worldview?

"I think I was really trusting before, but not so much now. I think the U.S. needs to tighten its security on immigration laws. I really wish we wouldn't help everyone out all the time, it just seems to backfire on us." Female, 20, voted for Bush

"It has more changed my view of our nation, and the bandwagon-style mass-mentality that suits us so well." Female, 20, voted for Gore


What do you think about the media coverage of the war?

"Do we really need 'America Strikes Back' written across the TV screen? That's ridiculous." Female, 20, voted for Gore

"It's dictated by American sentiment, i.e., feeding off of fear, because in a sick way we want to be scared of terrorism." Female, 22, voted for Gore

"I honestly live in the college bubble, and not much more than what goes [on] on the campus really gets to me." Female, 18, too young to vote. Would have voted for McCain.


What are other historic events that have happened during your lifetime, and how do they compare to September 11 and the current war?

"The fall of the Berlin Wall and the Gulf War are the huge occurrences that come to mind. I knew at the time that they were important, but I was in grade school and felt more affected when Jim Henson ['The Muppets'] died." Female, 20, voted for Gore

"I saved the front page of USA Today when Princess Di died. I found myself throwing away the newspapers in September, because odds are this won't even be the most astounding event during my lifetime. I didn't cry for 9/11. I didn't save the papers. I don't need newsprint to remember that day." Female, 19, voted for Gore

"The death of Princess Di and John Kennedy, but they really do not compare to 9/11, because I am older now and understand why we are at war. I still see images of 9/11 every day." Female, 21, voted for Bush

"Kosovo conflict, Clinton scandal, Columbine shootings, Oklahoma City bombing, Gulf War, Tom & Nicole calling it quits (sob!). Seriously though, I don't think anything really COULD compare. It's probably one of the most dramatic things to affect the country." Male, 19, voted for Gore


One day, what do you think you'll tell your children about these last three months?

"That it was fucked-up and it was a great wake-up call to the fat Western lifestyle." Male, 22, voted for Gore

"I hope... to show them how events like this could possibly have been avoided, had people been more aware and conscious of what their nation was truly doing to support itself." Female, 20, voted for Gore

"I think that going to war is good because if we didn't do something, then terrorists would strike again." Female, 21, voted for Bush


Do you define yourself as an "American" now, as opposed to something you used to go by: an indie-rock kid, a preppie, a jock?

"I am a California girl. I am a student, a writer, a curvaceous shopaholic. I am Japanese, Italian, Portuguese, Irish. No one item on this list defines me, other than the fact that I am me." Female, 20, voted for Gore

"Maybe a little. I think I feel prouder now to say I am American." Female, 21, voted for Bush

"No, I have yet to hang a flag outside my window. Am I a greater patriot? I don't think so. If anything, I regard the government with a little bit more respect. But I'm still me." Male, 19, voted for Gore


Are you worried that civil rights are being scaled back in the USA as part of the "War Against Terrorism"?

"The attack on Bill Maher was out of hand. People are surprised at comments made on a show called Politically Incorrect. Go figure." Female, 20, voted for Gore

"Scaling back of civil liberties is a necessary evil to fighting a war." Male, 19, voted for Gore

"No. I believe that most U.S. citizens would never be part of something so horrible, except for that John Walker guy. I think we have to be intelligent about who we're going after. I don't think people's rights are being invaded upon." Female, 21, voted for Bush

"Yes, very much so. Non-citizens can now be detained/deported without any reason. Isn't this the case? This affects a friend of mine, so yes, I am worried about this. 'Better safe than sorry' will work against us in the end." Male, 19, voted for Gore


Do you find yourself looking twice at Arab Americans? Explain.

"No. They definitely have it harder now than ever, they don't need me looking at them funny. The only things that I have wanted is just to talk to someone from there and ask them their opinions about it; and about their religion." Female, 18, didn't vote

"Yes, an effect of so many conversations about 'Do you look twice at Arab Americans now?' Those questions cause you to look twice at Arab Americans and then analyze why you're doing so." Female, 22, voted for Gore

"A little bit, but then I remember that they are Americans too. And most Muslims do not believe in bin Laden's crusade. They moved to America to probably achieve a better life. They have the same values and morals as everyone else in this country." Female, 20, voted for Bush


What's something you believe now that you didn't believe before September 11?

"That people with the biggest U.S. flags on their cars are the most patriotic." Male, 22, voted for Gore


Is the war in Afghanistan a just war? Is the "War on Terrorism" a just war?

"No. We're looking for revenge." Female, 20, voted for Gore

"What else can we do? They want to kill us and then hide behind their own women and children. Then again, that could be propaganda. I feel so sheltered by our government. Yes, we should stop ALL terrorism no matter what citizenship that terrorist is." Female, 18, voted for Nader

"After bin Laden's tape was released, I felt even stronger about this war. He deserves to die along with those other idiots who follow his evil regime. He is like a Hitler of the 21st century." Female, 21, voted for Bush

"No, because it will not end there. If bin Laden is captured, it will bring some sort of closure to the American people, but anti-terror campaigns will likely continue. It's an 'ongoing' war." Male, 19, voted for Gore

"This will not end in Afghanistan." Female, 19, voted for Gore

Amy Jenniges, Amy Baranski, and Jennifer Elam compiled this report.

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