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The Iraq Generation

How has growing up while the country is at war shaped the current generation, if at all?

Do you remember where you were when the US troops invaded Iraq five years ago? How have the past five years at war (six and a half if you start with 9/11 and Afghanistan) changed your life, if at all?

For those of you between roughly 16 and 25 years old now: Has growing up while your country is at war shaped your generation in any way?

In March 2003 I was reporting from Europe for NPR. In the days before the invasion I covered diplomatic maneuverings about weapons inspections and military coalition building. On March 20th and in the days after I watched and reported on protest after protest, as European opposition to the long-anticipated war took to the streets.

I went to Iraq six months later and reported regularly from there until early 2005. On periodic visits to Oregon it was clear this war was dividing the country. I felt it looked black and white from here, although as I told Willamette Week then, to me it was many shades of grey.

I’ve been wondering ever since how the war is making a lasting impression here.

So for the next generation - here are my questions:

  • Do you pay much attention to the war in Iraq?
  • Do you talk about it with your friends?
  • Can you remember a moment when you learned something about Iraq or the war that made you change your mind about something?
  • Do you count yourself as part of an “Iraq war generation”?
  • How, if at all, has growing up while your country is at war, affected you? Your generation?
  • If you’re not a Millennial, but Gen Xer, a baby boomer, or anyone else - has the Iraq war shaped your generation in tangible ways?


  • Isauro Saldana: Senior, Redmond High School. Student body vice president. Treasurer, National Honor Society. President, Future Business Leaders of America.
  • Aria Joughin: Junior, Franklin High School, Portland. Student board representative, Independent Publishing Resources Center.
  • Andrea Green: Senior, varsity soccer player South Medford High School.
  • Josh Coombs: Sergeant in inactive ready reserves of the US Marine Corp, after four years active duty including six month deployment to Iraq. Freshman at Lane Community College, Eugene.
  • Neil Howe: Co-author of “Generations: The History of America’s Future, 1584 to 2069” and “Millennials Rising.” Founder, Lifecourse Associates.

Photo credit: Steve Rhodes / Flickr / Creative Commons

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