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17th Dec 2016

Americans name the top 10 most significant moments of their lifetime

Carl Kinsella

In many ways, American history is world history.

From the 20th century onward, there has rarely been a time when the world’s eyes were not fixed squarely on the US – whether it be their role in World War II, the Vietnam invasion, the Cold War, the moon landing or 9/11.

A wide-ranging study conducted by the Pew Research Center surveyed Americans and asked what they most significant historical events in their lifetimes were — and there were a few interesting omissions.

For example, Richard Nixon’s resignation following the Watergate scandal doesn’t feature, nor does the Iran-Contra affair. Neither the assassinations of Martin Luther King nor Bobby Kennedy make the list, though these might all be explained by the number of respondents who did not live through those moments.

Nevertheless, the assassination of John F. Kennedy and the moon landing both feature in the top ten. There does also seem to be some evidence of recent event bias — with the Pulse nightclub shooting coming in at number ten, despite other major mass shootings such as Sandy Hook, Columbine and the Oklahoma bombing not making the list.

The full top-ten most significant moments in the lifetimes of Americans are:

  1. September 11th attacks

  2. Election of Barack Obama

  3. The tech revolution

  4. Assassination of John F. Kennedy

  5. Vietnam war

  6. The Iraq/Afghanistan wars

  7. Moon landing

  8. The collapse of the Soviet Union/end of Cold War

  9. Legalisation of gay marriage

  10. Orlando PULSE nightclub shooting

This page also breaks down the results by generation.

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