In the eye of the beholder
The views of North Coast residents on the attacks in New York and Washington appear to be as diverse as the population, ranging from continuing rage and fear to pronounced disinterest. Here's what a few Arcatans had to say as the 9-11 anniversary approaches.
PABLO AREVALO , 28, originally from Guatemala and now a microbiology major at Humboldt State University. "The first impression of it was that it was not real, that it was a movie," Arevalo said. Since the attacks, he has become disillusioned with America's response. "I'm not sure how much of an effect they're having. Sept. 11 was a big wake-up call for national security, but we shouldn't have let it get this far in the first place. It's kind of a reap what you sow kind of thing."
LYNDA BYRD , 28-year veteran of the U.S. Postal Service, Arcata mail carrier. "That day delivering mail, I'd never felt that way before. It was a mixture of disbelief, feeling like you're vulnerable, which is not a way Americans are used to feeling.
"Everywhere you went people were talking about it or watching it on TV; it shook up everybody. Living up here makes you feel better, though. If there's such a thing as a haven, this is it."
Byrd went on to describe how the Arcata Post Office was affected by the anthrax attacks that followed 9-11. "For a week or two (after the anthrax attacks) it was pretty scary," Byrd said. "We didn't know how extensive it was, whether it was just a few people or nationwide."
She said the post office now has to take new precautions. For example, if an air-mail package weighs more than a pound, staff must assess whether the sender seems suspicious before placing the package in the system. (To civil liberties advocates, such directives could open the door to discrimination, particularly against persons of Middle Eastern descent).
RIO AERYN , medical assistant/driver for the Humboldt County bloodmobile. Aeryn recalled the outpouring of support at the Humboldt County blood bank in Eureka following the attacks. "When I got to the blood bank that morning there were people already giving blood. All of the equipment had been taken out of the bloodmobiles and set up, but there were still lines of people waiting. We were just swamped.
As the day went on, finally we started asking people if they could come back another day. Because of that there was little blood wasted in Humboldt County, like there was in other places. [After 9-11] there was a drop in donations, but it just came down to about the normal level. It just felt that everyone was pulling together for this tragedy.
We didn't know what the repercussions would be but there was a real spirit of patriotism in the air. It was really very uplifting."
ROSEMARY GAVRONSKY , 17, a Washington state high school student, was in town last week after riding her bike down from Seaside, Ore. She was in class when she heard about it. "To have them (the terrorists) destroy two major buildings really didn't affect me very much," Gavronsky said. "I feel that the lives lost need a memorial, but we shouldn't focus on the negativity. Live and let live; get over it." She said she's less afraid of flying now than she was before the attacks. "I feel safer than ever because now everyone's on high alert."
JOHN MORGAN , 25, a Spanish and music composition major at Humboldt State. Morgan still feels strongly affected by the attacks. "I think about (the attacks) every day. Every time I've flown since Sept. 11, I prepare myself. I make sure I'm ready to die because you never know what could happen."
CASSIE DEMANT , 21, an elementary education major at Humboldt State. Demant said 9-11 really didn't faze her, though she's upset about what's happened since. "I didn't feel anything about Sept. 11. It really didn't affect me," Demant said. "(But) I don't like the way Bush is using it to invade Iraq."
[Cassie Demant, left, and Melissa Hanks]
MELISSA HANKS , 21, a medical assistant in Eureka. Hanks echoed Demant's thoughts. "It didn't really bother me much. I took advantage of the great rates and flew to Utah to go skiing."
ANDI WEAVER , 26, who served in the Army for three years as a mechanic and lab tech. Weaver was inclined to think the United States had it coming. "Actually I thought it was about to happen because everything's so imperialistic and so controlled that somebody had to make a point. It was just like burning the flag. Why didn't they just hit the Statue of Liberty?"
She said her experience in the Army had taught her what war was really about -- money. "War creates economy. It's just a big industry, like anything else." She added that though she was sorry for the people who died, it's not like people don't die every day. "Nobody I knew died in it. Sure, 2000 people died [actually about 3,000], but hell, you can die in a car accident."
SARAH KLEIN , 23, a Humboldt State philosophy major. Klein said she was deeply affected by the attacks, and was disturbed by the violent feelings the attacks aroused. "I was really upset. I was crying all day. I worked at a coffee shop and it closed down [on the day of the attacks]. I felt that people weren't really taking into consideration the people who had lost their lives -- rather they retaliated with anger and hostility."
-- Andrew Edwards
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