By Mark Beardsley
The Commerce News
September 11, 2002
Weve Adjusted And Will Again
When Terror Hits
None of us will forget what we were doing the morning of Sept. 11, 2001.
This week every news outlet bombards us with one-year-later stories marking what has changed or not changed in the year since.
I'm more interested in how America will react if there is another successful attack, something a consensus says is bound to happen.
Prior to Sept. 11, I'd often contemplated America's response to a high-casualty terrorist attack, thinking then in terms of a biological, chemical or nuclear incident. When Sept. 11 occurred, I realized I had not anticipated the U.S. response to a shadowy terrorist group with no national ties; I'd speculated on the assumption of an attack from a group tied directly to Iraq, Syria anybody.
We now must consider that al Qaeda or some similar group could succeed in the aforementioned grand terrorist attack. How would a biological, chemical or nuclear attack on Chicago, Washington, DC, or New York affect us and how would we respond, particularly if it was al Qaeda and we didn't really know where they were?
If Saddam Hussein pulled it off, killing 10,000 Americans, my hypothesis is that the Bush administration would order a nuclear response. Punishing a group that is underground is not so simple. Witness our hunt for bin Laden.
The economic effect of Sept. 11 is hard to measure, given that we were in a recession, but the attacks demonstrated that the economy is as vulnerable as major buildings or other hard targets. In dollars, more damage was done to the economy than to property in New York City and Washington, DC, combined. Other "collateral damage" includes the loss of our sense of security, the anger at not being able to get quick retribution and the loss of freedom and quality of life that result from more intense security measures.
For all our vulnerability though, we are a nation of immense economic and psychological strength. Adversity toughens America. We are stronger after Sept. 11; the aftermath of any future attacks will strengthen us further. You can read all you want about new fears, doubts and uncertainties, but underneath it all, we are more resolute than ever. The economy will adjust; so will the people.
America was shocked, saddened and angered by the loss of life a year ago, and we'll have the same reaction if another attack occurs. The terrorists are right when they see opportunity for destruction and mayhem; they are dead wrong if they anticipate capitulation.
If the mayhem continues, America will harden its stance against countries that support our enemies. Who knows, we might even cure our addiction to oil from the Middle East as the wrath of America turns against Syria, Libya, Saudi Arabia and any other regime found to be financing or harboring those who attack us.
On the surface, sometimes it seems as if nothing changed after Sept. 11. Dont be fooled; everything changed. Today the world is more dangerous, more frightening. This country will adjust to those new challenges and though it may be a scary world, it will also be fascinating to watch and to experience.
The Jackson Herald
September 11, 2002
Take water restrictions seriously
Georgia is suffering from its worst draught in four years. Water levels are down, flower gardens are drooping and farmers are especially feeling the heat. The water level at the new reservoir, which was supposed to solve our water woes, is down considerably.
The serious conditions have led county and city governments to take drastic steps. The county water authority has banned all outdoor water use. Some cities have restricted outdoor water use from 10 a.m. to midnight on an odd/even basis, while a state ban is in place from 10 a.m . to 10 p.m.
Water is something that many people have taken for granted. This is no longer the case. The water restrictions are serious and everyone should follow them, not only residents but businesses, industries and government agencies. Outdoor water use has been spotted in the Jefferson area this week during the restricted time. We should all heed these restrictions more seriously.
Remember our local heroes
Firefighters, law enforcement officers and public safety employees put their lives on the line every day. They are often met with anger and dangerous situations. They are in a thankless profession that doesnt always reward them.
As the anniversary of the terroristic attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, is observed, lets all thank our local heroes.
Thank the volunteer fireman who left his regular job to rush to your home and into the flames.
Thank the deputy or police officer who comes to your aid in times of conflict.
Thank the 911 dispatcher who calms your nerves in times of distress.
Thank the ambulance driver and rescue personnel who come to the roadside to save your life.
At this time of remembering all the public servants who lost their lives on 9-11 and throughout the time to come, lets all remember our local heroes. And lets also remember to thank the veterans who served our country so well and the military personnel who continue to fight for our freedom.
By Mike Buffington
The Jackson Herald
September 11, 2002
What has changed since 9-11?
One of the big drawbacks of the information age is the psychological whiplash of media saturation. The advent of cable news networks gave rise to the need to both fill airtime and pull viewers, thus even minor incidents get elevated to a status of breaking news.
But media saturation can also work in the opposite direction. Large events draw dozens of talking-heads and viewers soon tire of self-appointed news analysts and lengthy political dissections.
So it is now one year after the horrid events of 9-11-01 and the public is swimming in a sea of information glut. So many aspects of that day have been examined and rehashed that I doubt any stone has been left unturned in the search for a new angle on that story.
But it is worth asking: What has changed in America since 9-11?
Soon after the event, America found itself in a mood of self-examination. Like the periodic religious revivals of the past, Americans felt somehow personally transformed by the attacks on 9-11. We expected, somehow, for the world to look different in the smoky aftermath.
Yet here we are, a year later, and most Americans face the same problems as before. We still have to pay our mortgage, help the kids do their homework and go through the other mundane aspects of our daily lives.
There are exceptions, of course. Those families directly affected by the attacks still feel the pain of empty chairs in their homes. And some people did make changes, joining the military or making some other life-altering decisions in the wake of the 9-11 emotional tide.
But for most of us, life goes on pretty much as before. It is not that we have forgotten what happened, or that we dont appreciate the horror of the events one year ago, but rather that we have put them into some perspective and moved forward.
And that is as it should be. To allow terrorism to alter our lives, or to throw us into some kind of melancholy state, would be to give into the cultural roots of terrorism itself.
Not everyone believes Americans are emotionally stable enough to face this anniversary of 9-11. Psychobabble has been coming from a variety of sources, including some education groups who have a great fear that all our kids will forever suffer one syndrome or another from talking about what happened on 9-11.
But this nation, even its children, are much stronger than those pundits suppose. In the aftermath of Pearl Harbor and the ensuing years of World War II where thousands of children lost brothers and fathers, there was no effort to promote Americas status as a victim. America did not dwell on its own pain, but rather on facing the task at hand and moving forward.
While America was indeed the victim of terrorism on 9-11, we are not a nation to dwell on victimization. Our Puritan ancestors, as well as many of our early stoic German immigrants, created a culture that abhors self-pity.
And that, in the end, is the strength of America and the biggest difference between our Western Culture and the failed culture which gave rise to those terrorists. In the Middle East, government and religious propaganda distort what is really happening in the world. They play on a cultural weakness that continues to harbor resentments from 1,000 years ago. The Middle Eastern culture elevates victimization and in that fertile field cultivates resentments and hatred as its crop.
But America, for all its weaknesses and flaws, does not have a culture of victimization and self-pity. Our culture is stronger, more self-assured and in the end, far superior to cultures that pick at old scabs and continually blame others for whatever misfortunes befall them.
So the real story on this anniversary of 9-11 isnt how much America has changed, but rather how much we havent changed. For all the horror of that day, we have not let it make us a nation of victims.
And that is why the culture of our nation is superior to that of those who attacked us. The toppling of buildings was tragic, but it did not wreck the inner strength that makes America great.
Mike Buffington is editor of The Jackson Herald.
The Commerce News
September 11, 2002
Country Still Changing
After Terrorist Attack
In some ways, it seems like a decade ago that the terrorists stuck; in others, it seems like just last week. For most of us though, Sept. 11, 2001, is as watershed moment in American history.
When the twin towers of the World Trade Center crashed to the ground, smoke spiraled above the Pentagon and the whole world watched events unfold and fears and uncertainties arose, everything changed. Gone was the arrogant sense that no one would attack our homeland. Gone was the notion of our invulnerability. Our sense of security, our notions that the government could protect us against any attack and even our financial security all disappeared in a few short hours.
The days that followed brought anguish as the death toll mounted and more fear as (apparently) domestic terrorists mailed out anthrax and as the government warned that more foreign attacks were imminent. The stock market, already weak, tumbled, U.S. forces marshaled for war and every conversation related to Sept. 11.
Yet at our saddest moment, other things happened too. We learned of the great sacrifice made by the heroes of Sept. 11, from the passengers who kept yet another airplane from its target to the police, fire and rescue workers who risked and sometimes lost their lives at the attack scenes. Americans poured hundreds of millions of dollars into the relief effort and countless volunteers swarmed to New York to do whatever they could to help.
Tears changed to hard resolve. Though still fearful, the American public rallied behind its leaders, troops and emergency service personnel to stand defiantly tall amid the rubble of the attack. Shaken from their lethargy, people embraced each other, put aside their differences and held their families closely. The stock market, while hardly robust, recovered its Sept. 11 losses; people refused to let the terrorists terrorize.
Today, there is a sense that normalcy has returned, but it never really will. All the pre-Sept. 11 rules have changed. One year after Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda terrorists struck al Qaeda has been forced to cover, conspirators in terrorism have been arrested and the government is itching to attack Iraq as a source of and supporter of terrorism. Yet the public recognizes that more, even deadlier, terrorism is likely, and it appears willing to surrender some rights and freedoms, not to mention tax dollars, in the pursuit of homeland security.
Every American knows he or she cannot take for granted that the next terrorist attack is not imminent, but at the same time, we are not cowering behind locked doors and barred windows in fear. The business of America goes on, from the board room to the baseball field. Sept. 11, 2001, was not a fatal blow; rather, it was a wake-up call.
Certainly the military might has been awakened. The al Qaeda-friendly Taliban is overthrown in Afghanistan, bin Laden is in hiding and supporters of terrorism have been warned of the consequences. Domestically, the race is on to improve security, from our airports to our nuclear plants. Plans are being readied to deal with nuclear, chemical and biological attacks. Our intelligence agencies are working together and the cooperation worldwide in fighting terrorism is remarkable.
Not all of the news is good. The were-all-in-it-together attitude has largely dissolved, much of the patriotism exhibited after the attacks was nationalism in disguise and America has taken the position that as a superpower, it can do what it wants, the rest of the world be damned. The America-knows-best attitude angers the rest of the world.
In short, America is still changing because of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, much for the better, some for the worse. What kind of nation we become will be determined by our response to the post-Sept. 11 tragedy and how we handle the new world in which we live.