These Were The Most Life-Changing Events That Happened In America

Scene from September 11 / Pixabay
Scene from September 11 / Pixabay

2016 has been a huge year for the world, and it’s pretty easy to get caught up in its universal drama. New research conducted by the Pew Research Center takes a “bigger-picture” perspective: they asked the American public to name ten historical events which had the biggest impact on the country, in the public’s lifetime. Here’s what they said:

#1. September 11 Terror Attacks

A huge 76% of the public pointed to the September 11 attacks in their answer. In fact, all generations who answered the survey said that it was the most defining historical event of their lifetimes.

The Tribute in Light in 2014, taken from Bayonne, New Jersey. /

#2. The Obama Election

The demographic data around this event is highly interesting. Overall, the Obama election was the second most frequently named significant event in the entire survey. However, it places first for African Americans, and second for whites answering the survey.

Barack Obama and Bo running / Pixabay

#3. The Tech Revolution

Across numerous regions of the United States, the Tech Revolution is mentioned the least by respondents in the South (fifth place), but features in third place for respondents from the West and Northeast.

The rise of tech / Pixabay

#4. The Assassination of JFK

The JFK assassination was named by all socio-economic groups as one of the most defining moment in post-modern American history.

JFK and Caroline Kennedy / Pixabay

#5. The Vietnam War

Both Democrats and Republicans viewed the Vietnam War as a significant historical event, but Republicans mentioned it more frequently (23%) compared to Democrats (18%).

Anti-war protest against the Vietnam War in Washington, D.C. on April 24, 1971 – at the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and 10th Street NW. Posters saying Veterans and WAR SHITS – OUT NOW /

#6. The Iraq & Afghanistan Wars

While 19% of the people surveyed named the country’s response to the September 11 attacks as a source of pride, the subsequent Iraq/Afghanistan war was placed third in the most “disappointing” moments.

Soldiers in Iraq / Pixabay

#7. Landing on the Moon

The moon landing came third in the ranking of moments that made Americans proud of their country. Apollo 11 landed on the moon on 20 July 1969.

Moon landing / Pixabay

#8. The End of the Cold War

Gen Xers (born 1965-1980) mentioned the end of the Cold War and the fall of the Berlin Wall more prominently than other generations, as one of the most defining events in their lifetimes.

The Berlin Wall / Pixabay

#9. The Legalization of Same-sex Marriage

The US Supreme Court decision to legalize same-sex marriage is seen by 19% of millennials as an impactful event, but it was mentioned much less frequently by other generations – only 7% of Baby Boomers named it in the survey.

Pride Parade / Pixabay

#10. The Orlando Shooting

The Orlando shooting ranks very high amongst Hispanics (19%) – much higher than for any other demographic group. The context of the event could help explain: the vast majority of the murder victims were Latino.

Vigil of solidarity in the wake of the Orlando Pulse shooting /

#11. The Gulf War

The war which took place during the George WH Bush administration is one of the few events named more often by men than women.

USAF aircraft of the 4th Fighter Wing (F-16, F-15C and F-15E) fly over Kuwaiti oil fires, set by the retreating Iraqi army during Operation Desert Storm in 1991 /

We can only speculate, but there’s a fair chance that the Trump election could well feature on this list next year.

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