Throughout the 232-year path of U.S. history, generation after generation has experienced at least one colossal, nation-changing event.
Today's senior citizens, for example, witnessed the most massive world war in history.
Middle-aged America watched in teary-eyed disbelief the assassination of its young president.
In light of just these experiences of generations still living, America's youngest generation has lived through what could be considered two of the most significant political happenings along their own leg of the journey. These events, on a Richter-like scale measuring their worldwide significance, altered the landscape of history.
The first: Election Night 2000. It was a cold November evening. Sitting on the floor in front of the television, I eagerly awaited the winner of the next state to be called.
To my dismay, California went to "big bad Al." My parents explained to me that Gore was expected to win that state anyway. My hopes were not completely dashed. The wait continued.
The time neared that the critical state of Florida is to be called. The whole family was on edge as the final word comes in.
Looks of disgust and dismay came over our faces as we realized that, barring any unforeseen miracle, Al Gore was to be our next president.
But, as everyone now knows, this was not to be the case. George W. Bush became our 43rd president after the longest election in the history of this country.
Memories of the 2000 election are something that this generation will pass on to future generations. It was an election punctuated by controversies over the popular vote, military absentee ballots, butterfly ballot confusion, recounts, lawsuits, court decisions and appeals, and sore losers. This era of our history will rank among the greatest pieces of nostalgia for the current youth of America.
The second: 9/11. Most people can remember the moment they learned of the attacks of Sept.11, 2001. Like Pearl Harbor, it was a "day that will live in infamy" and an event that would unite a divided America, if only for the time being.
I remember sitting at my desk along the window of Mr. Ivan Wilson's fifth grade classroom at Union Elementary School. He had just been summoned to the office to take a call. Phone calls were a regular part of Mr. Wilson's routine, and I thought nothing out of the ordinary about this one.
What I didn't realize as I sat there at my desk was that one of the greatest tragedies in American history had begun to unfold. Whether witnessing the event live from the sidewalks of New York or watching the film footage on TV, many Americans sobbed uncontrollably at the sight of the planes crashing into our Twin Towers.
Some cried about a loved one lost in the attacks, others for the end of both innocence and the myth of American invincibility. We were shaken. And for the first time in a long time, we Americans stood together.
This decade has certainly been among the most significant in the history of this country. The upcoming election will no doubt be an event that will change America as we know it.
Whether Obama becomes the first black president or Palin becomes the first female vice president, history will be made.
It will be fascinating to see whether America really is tired enough of the Republican reign in the White House for the last eight years to vote for the most liberal man in the Senate - a Senate controlled by the Democratic party for the past two years.
Political parties have really strayed from their original purpose. While Republicans have strayed toward supporting big business, it seems that the A.C.O.R.N. branch of the party has fallen off the oak (in more ways than one) for the Democrats as they have started to swing toward the socialist end of the spectrum.
Government is bringing change to America. But this change is one that will challenge the original ideals and beliefs of this great nation.
Election Night 2008: I am certain that this same kid who feared the possibility of a Gore-Lieberman ticket will be in front of the television anxiously awaiting Brit Hume's call of the important swing states in this election of profound importance. The biggest difference this time is that my vote will be among those that decide the outcome.
Regardless who is elected, it will be enthralling to witness during the coming years the historical events that will shape the lives of my generation and of those to come.
Nathan Saltzer is a student reporter at Indian Valley High School.