By Cindy Y. Rodriguez, CNN
(CNN) - Daniel Hernandez Jr. isn't your typical 23-year-old.
On January 8, 2011, Jared Lee Loughner opened fire at a "Congress on Your Corner" event in Tucson, Arizona, featuring U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Since he had some medical training, Hernandez ran toward the gunfire to tend to victims, realized Giffords was shot on the left side of her head and used his bare hands to keep her from losing more blood. Six people died and 13 people were injured, including Giffords, who is still recuperating.
That was Hernandez's first week interning for Giffords. He was only 20.
He's been credited with saving Giffords' life and recognized as a hero, although he rejects the title.
Since the tragedy, Hernandez's life hasn't been the same: It's involved interviews, meeting the president and first lady, and national fame. After graduating from the University of Arizona, he was elected to serve on a school board in Tucson but also travels the country as an inspirational speaker.
Now, in a heartfelt memoir, "They Call Me a Hero: A Memoir of My Youth," the Tucson native speaks in detail of the shooting, the experiences that have helped shaped him and why he doesn't want to be called a hero.
By Mariano Castillo, CNN
(CNN) - When Erika Andiola's mother and brother were detained by immigration agents this month, she jumped to action.
She summoned the help of undocumented youths like herself, known as DREAMers, and within hours, immigration officials were flooded with dozens of phone calls.
Andiola's mother and brother were released.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials say the detention of the pair and their eventual release had nothing to do with Andiola's activism.
But that does not dampen her spirit. As far as she is concerned, the DREAMers snatched her mother from the brink of deportation.
"For us to get them to do that, it takes a lot of pressure," she said.
Her work, along with other DREAMers, has increasingly become a powerful voice shaping discussions on immigration reform, which President Obama has vowed to pass in his second term.
Dubbed DREAMers, their name is derived from the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, which, if passed, would have granted some undocumented immigrant youth legal status in return for attending college or joining the military.
In 2009, DREAMers knocked on doors and begged for support of the DREAM Act, a bill that would have provided a path to citizenship for certain youth who came to the United States as children and live in the country illegally.
Today, the movement is enjoying a certain amount of clout. FULL POST
Editor's note: Nancy Keenan is president of NARAL Pro-Choice America. She will be stepping down from her role at the end of this month.
(CNN) - There have been a few moments in our history when a generation has used the power of its numbers and its passion for a cause to transcend a deeply divided society and change the course of the future for the better.
We've come to one of those moments.
About every 80 years, a young civic generation has forced the nation to deal with its fundamental challenges, according to Morley Winograd and Michael Hais in their 2011 book, "Millennial Momentum." They cite the American Revolution, the Civil War and the New Deal as key moments when a generation came together to create a different society.
Today's millennial generation is the next generation to wield that power.
I am a baby boomer. In the late 1960s, my generation rallied to make the case that a woman's right to choose should be guaranteed, and, 40 years ago on Tuesday, the Supreme Court handed down the landmark Roe v. Wade decision. Today, younger than 40 have always lived in an America where abortion has been legal.
By Michael Martinez, Amanda Watts and Deanna Hackney, CNN
(CNN) - A gay California Boy Scout's application for Eagle rank was rejected by a Scout council, an official with the organization said Tuesday.
In response, the Scout's parents pledged to press their son's national campaign for gay Scouts to be eligible for Eagle status.
John Fenoglio, Scout executive for the Mount Diablo-Silverado Boy Scout Council, said the Eagle rank application from Ryan Andresen of Moraga, California, wasn't approved because of "membership standards," specifically "duty to God, avowed homosexuality, and the fact that he is now over 18 years of age."
Contrary to some media accounts, Andresen's application wasn't approved by the local council in Contra Costa County, nor was it submitted to the Boy Scouts' national office, Fenoglio told CNN.
The teen's father, Eric Andresen, said his son, a high school senior, wasn't available for comment Tuesday because he's studying for exams and preparing college applications.
"It's pretty upsetting, and it's wrong," the father said of the council's decision. "The whole thing has been wrong since day one.
Scouting goes through a rough patch
"It's politics now, and it's just ridiculous," he continued.
The Boy Scouts of America policy does "not grant membership to individuals who are open or avowed homosexuals or who engage in behavior that would become a distraction to the mission of the BSA," the group's website says.
By Abbey Goodman, CNN
(CNN) - Tavi Gevinson started a blog at age 11, became a front-row fixture at Fashion Week, was called "the future of journalism" by Lady Gaga, delivered a TED talk about feminism and female role models in pop culture, is the founder and editor-in-chief of Rookie,an online magazine for teenage girls and, to commemorate its first anniversary, just published 'Rookie Yearbook One,' a hard-copy scrapbook of the best pieces from the site.
And, oh yeah, she's 16 years old.
In five short years, the wunderkind from Oak Park, Illinois, has gone from self-proclaimed nerd to full-blown media mogul, using her platform to champion important teen girl causes ranging from How to Bitchface - a step-by-step primer to "reacting to varying levels of stupidity" (see her demonstrate on "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon") to organizing a Get Well Soon card drive for Malala Yousafzai, the 14-year-old Pakistani schoolgirl activist who was shot in the head by Taliban gunmen.
Rookie launched in Fall 2011 and broke 1 million page views in under a week. Since then, the site has explored monthly themes likeobsession, drama, play and paradise. Right now, it's mythology. Or, as Gevinson explains in the editor's letter: "lies, exaggerations, legends, the works."
To kick off each theme, Gevinson creates a mood board using fashion photos, film stills and album art as inspiration. Then she and the site's 50 contributors - including fellow teens and more than a handful of celebrities - go about interpreting her vision through articles, interviews, photos, playlists and illustrations. To accommodate kids' schedules, Rookie updates three times a day: after school, around dinner and before bed.
Before she was named one of Huffington Post's most amazing young people of 2012, Gevinson spoke with CNN about the power of teenage girls, making angst romantic and the one secret Jon Hamm must never find out.
By CNN Staff
(CNN) - Jessica Rees was diagnosed with a brain tumor at age 11, and she and her parents would drive to the hospital every day to receive outpatient treatment.
"One day we were leaving, and she just simply asked us, 'When do all the other kids come home?'" said her father, Erik.
When Jessica found out that many of them would have to stay at the hospital, she wanted to help "make them happier, because I know they're going through a lot, too," she said.
So she started making JoyJars - containers full of toys, stickers, crayons, anything that might brighten a child's day.
"She was really particular about what would go in the jars," said her mother, Stacey. "It had to be something cool, it couldn't be cheap or flimsy."
Jessica created 3,000 JoyJars before she passed away this January. But her parents are carrying on her legacy.
Editor's Note: In today’s United States, is being black determined by the color of your skin, by your family, by what society says or something else? Soledad O’Brien reports “Who Is Black in America?” on CNN at 8 p.m. ET/PT Sunday, December 15.
By Michelle Rozsa and Soledad O'Brien, CNN
(CNN) - Seventeen-year-old Nayo Jones has chestnut colored skin and wears her curly hair in a small Afro, but she doesn't "feel black".
“I was raised up with white people, white music, white food, so it’s not something I know,” says Jones.
She sits in a circle talking about black culture and what makes someone black in 2012, surrounded by a group of diverse teens and twenty-somethings. They grew up with a biracial president who identifies as black. They will not have to fill out a census that demands they check just one racial box. And they are part of a generation that has a growing number of mixed-race relationships and people.
In 2010, 15 % of new marriages were between people of different races or ethnicities, double the number from 1980. Also, the number of people who self-identify as mixed race is growing.
Census: More people identify as mixed race
For Jones, who has a black mom, but was raised by her white dad, black requires a certain type of experience. She rejects identifying as black because, “It's kind of my lack of the black experience, or what other people would say is my lack of a black experience.”
Many of the 50 or so young adults in the room view race differently from their parents, and from one another. For them, race is fluid, and they get to decide their identity. FULL POST
Editor's note: This article is one in a series examining how attitudes change and people relate across generations. Visit CNN Living for more on Baby Boomers, Millennials and beyond.
By Kat Kinsman, CNN
(CNN) - I was always certain that I'd have my life worked out by the time I was 40. I'd somehow magically awake on my 40th birthday filled with the wisdom of the ages: a solid financial plan, inner peace and a tastefully appointed yet attractive wardrobe that wouldn't just make me feel like I was playing dress-up at work.
As it happened, I did wake up that August morning possessed of new insight - mostly about how mortifyingly delicious birthday-cake-flavored vodka turned out to be, and how hangovers come on harder and stronger as the years pass. I shut the blinds and went back to sleep. An old lady needs her rest.
No one under 38 really considers what 40 and beyond is going to look like for them. They plot the ambitious beginning ("I'm going to become a successful ___") and the triumphant denouement ("Then I'll retire with my beloved partner and we'll spend our well-funded free time by ___"). But they gloss over the mushy middle, where all the day-to-day doing happens.
By Elizabeth Landau, CNN
(CNN) - Judy Warzenski didn't realize how bad her father, Donald's, memory had gotten until he turned to her sister Joyce and asked, "Where's the girl who was sitting next to you?" He did not recognize Joyce as his own daughter.
This Thanksgiving, Warzenski and her younger siblings will eat Thanksgiving dinner with their father in a private dining room at a nursing home in Pennsylvania. Moving her father there in October was an agonizing decision.
"It's really very upsetting to me," said Warzenski, 62, of central New Jersey. "I promised him I would never do this. I promised him I would never put him in a nursing home, which I've come to realize is an unrealistic promise."
Warzenski, who had commented on a previous CNN dementia story, is one of many baby boomers who must watch their loved ones suffer from Alzheimer's, the most common form of dementia. The condition, which robs people of their memory and thinking skills, necessitates tough decisions about caring for people as their minds slowly slip away.
Editor’s note: Vincent DiCaro is vice president of development and communication for the National Fatherhood Initiative, where he has worked for more than 10 years to promote involved, responsible and committed fatherhood. He lives in Maryland with his wife and toddler-age son.
By Vincent DiCaro, Special to CNN
(CNN) – I’ll always remember the first time my son spontaneously said, “Thank you,” to me. It was only a few months ago. He has Type 1 diabetes and was having a low blood sugar episode. I brought him his favorite juice to get his blood sugar up, and when I handed him the juice he said, “Thank you, daddy” in his adorable toddler voice.
I melted of course, but I was also grateful that my son was picking up one of the most important character traits he will need as he grows up: thankfulness. But as the father of a 2½-year-old, I can say with confidence that thankfulness does not come naturally to children, mine included.
While my son is starting to say “thank you” on his own, it was only after making him say it over and over again; the first few hundred times he said those magical words, he didn’t even know what they meant. But somehow, he knew what “no” and “mine” meant right away – funny how that works.
So raising thankful children is an uphill battle against the generally selfish tendencies of children. But not all hope is lost. Parenting, like having a good jump shot, is a skill that can be learned through the right techniques and practice.
To get you started, here are five things you can start to do right away that will build a character of thankfulness in your children.
1. Model thankfulness. It is difficult for children to be what they don’t see. Therefore it is critical that you live out thankfulness in your own life.
What defines you? Maybe it’s the shade of your skin, the place you grew up, the accent in your words, the make up of your family, the gender you were born with, the intimate relationships you chose to have or your generation? As the American identity changes we will be there to report it. In America is a venue for creative and timely sharing of news that explores who we are. Reach us at email@example.com.
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