It has been 21 years since al-Qaeda suicide bombers carried out the deadliest terror attack ever on U.S. soil, yet any American who lived through that sorrowful day still remembers the horrific sight of the mighty Twin Towers collapsing to the earth.
Reading the articles and social media posts about 9/11 today brought me back to the moment when my heart collapsed along with those buildings. The memory, as clear as that September sky, still tightens my chest after all this time. There is, too, some sweet nostalgia for the rare unity Americans felt in the year that followed. More than 250,000 brave men and women enlisted in the Armed Forces that year, and many more would continue to sign up to fight in the longest wars our nation has ever known. After 9/11, we proved ourselves to be one nation under God; indivisible. That is why about seven percent of the adult population in the U.S. today has served in the military.
I believe that spirit of unity still lives within us, even if it feels buried under the scars of conflict and politics, division and bitter loss. We must continue to find ways to honor the heroes who stood up to fight in a time of unfathomable danger and uncertainty. Many organizations in corporate and public sectors have honored the post-9/11 generation by implementing hiring preferences for veterans. This empowers veterans to experience the dignity of labor, to contribute to American productivity, and to build wealth and resilience that strengthens their families.
But the institution of journalism has been woefully slow in welcoming veterans to contribute to the crucial work of the Fourth Estate, and today fewer than two percent of journalists have served in the military. It doesn’t just hurt veterans to be so excluded from this industry – it hurts us all, and it hurts democracy itself, by contributing to the growing distrust of news. Audiences don’t see themselves fairly represented, and they have reacted by dismissing news reports as inaccurate.
The team at Military Veterans in Journalism works every day to counter this distressing trend by fighting for veterans to have a voice in the public discourse. That means training them in new and classic journalism techniques, helping them get into great schools, and creating a pipeline into newsrooms where the special trust they have earned can strengthen public faith in news reporting. But on this solemn day, we will recommit ourselves especially to the Post-9/11 generation.
It is wonderful that so many post-9/11 veterans get jobs in public service and corporate America, but for them to truly experience the freedom of speech they fought for they must have a stronger presence in the news industry. We will honor the post-9/11 generation the only way we know how to – by helping them gain access to journalism careers. This week, we are waiving any membership fees for post-9/11 veterans and spouses who join our ranks at MVJ.
We want to bring in more members from this new great generation so we can provide them with mentors, fellowships, networking opportunities and all the benefits that come with MVJ membership. If you know any post-9/11 veterans or spouses, please help us honor them by sharing this opportunity, and if you agreed to serve any time after 9/11, we will prove to you that you can have a voice in the news Americans consume.