It took only a matter of minutes to forever change our nation. The worst fears of a free society have come true, and we will live with both the physical as well as the emotional scars from this tragedy for years to come.
Today [Sept. 12] is a day for rescue, grieving and investigation. We must do everything within our power to help the rescue efforts in New York City and at the Pentagon and to extend a compassionate hand to the victims' families.
The victims include not only the thousands who were in these buildings, but also the countless brave emergency men and women who responded to save lives only to become victims themselves.
As a nation, we took immediate steps yesterday to limit the scope of devastation: We sealed off airspace, closed federal buildings and heightened security across the country. Today we continue to safeguard against the residual threats posed by these horrific events. Yet, a nation whose people are truly free to travel and communicate will always be vulnerable to terrorist attacks.
We need to investigate all the facts of yesterday's events so we can determine who is responsible for this insidious action and respond appropriately. As federal agencies and other government offices work together, we can begin to match questions with answers.
We must make every effort to prevent this type of tragedy from occurring again. I have every faith that in this time of crisis and mourning, the world will see that the American spirit of resilience remains undeterred. Yesterday our nation came together as a united family. Today, that bond remains stronger than ever. My heart and prayers are with the injured, the victims and all their families.
Rep. Mike Thompson, Washington
Like most Americans, I am still reeling from the shock and horror of this attack upon us and feel the utmost sorrow and sympathy for those who were killed and injured across the country.
Our nation needs to respond quickly and decisively to this tragedy, but I refuse to join the predictable calls for suspending our civil liberties, closing our borders, building a missile defense shield, increasing the size of the military and spy networks or strengthening our skyscrapers.
Unless we are willing to exterminate every person in the world who is poor, oppressed and disenfranchised, we will never win a "war against terrorism" any more than we could ever win a "war" against drugs.
Terrorists are not born terrorists, and they have proven to be neither cowards nor impulsive madmen.
But what do you think would drive someone be so angry and desperate to commit such atrocities? And what do we really know about why so many people in the world hate us? If we really care more about preventing future terrorist attacks than revenge, nothing short of a complete review of our international policies and increased understanding of global issues is in order. Our leaders and media are unwilling to ask these questions because it may result in changes to our lifestyles, consumption habits and profits.
These horrible acts have demonstrated that we are no longer safe from the consequences of our actions around the world and brought us to a critical crossroads. We can choose to follow Israel's cyclical path of endless revenge and retaliation or we can use this opportunity to join the international community and take the lead in eradicating the root causes of terrorism. For the sake of the victims of this attack and future generations, I hope we choose wisely.
Brian Mau, McKinleyville
A s someone who was born and raised in the D.C. area but is now living here behind the Redwood Curtain, I felt much too removed from the scenes of [last week's] events. I had this illogical but unshakable urge to be back in the Metro area or in New York, offering whatever help I could, emotionally or otherwise. To be wondering how my family there was but with no phone service with which to reach them was so frustrating.
As the first reports were coming in, I kept thinking how this was only the beginning of a long nightmare, how the repercussions were going to continue to unfold for months and years to come -- emotionally, economically, culturally, militarily.
My roommate and I watched reports of the World Trade collisions, then he went off for a brief walk in the forest up the road. By the time he came back just a half hour later, the Pentagon had been hit, the World Trade buildings had collapsed, another plane had gone down. How quickly we, as a nation and a world, can share something so tragic despite our distances.
I suppose I'm not quite so far from it all as I at first felt. I imagine none of us will feel removed from it, as we each discover someone we know has been directly affected by this.
Martin Anderson, Arcata
I n the dismal light of the terrible event Sept. 11, many of us have found, re-found or intensified our American patriotism. Although it seems like a perfectly natural response to such a horrific event, something about it does not seem complete.
I think we can all agree that the most abominable aspect of this tragedy is the fact that so many innocent lives were lost or altered beyond repair, ... but I say to our president, to our leaders in Washington, both legislative and military as they gear up for war, that innocent lives everywhere in the entire world should be no less important than innocent American lives.
The dilemma is that the sick individuals responsible for this attack must be stopped, yet I am not in favor of violence in any form. I am at the very least not in favor of making war on anyone at the cost of one innocent life anywhere, period. This is the standard we have all set for our people at home here in America. If we are truly a world leader of nations then we should, without pause, extend that standard to include all innocent people.
So when we, as Americans, are giving our thoughts and prayers to the innocent lives affected last Tuesday, let us extend that feeling to all innocent peoples everywhere.
Tim Gray, Eureka
My wife Roberta and I were lucky enough to meet Richard Guadagno once at a dinner party last month. We were looking forward to having a long friendship with him and his partner. This week's news is horrifying and hits home in a way that I never thought possible.
Below is a poem I wrote. If you want to print it, I would appreciate it. If you don't, I understand.
One quiet gentle man
died in the line of duty
leaving birds, water.
Ben Sikora, email@example.com
[Eureka resident, Richard J. Guadagno, refuge manager for Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge, died along with 45 other passengers aboard United Airlines Flight 93.]
America's reponse to the recent attacks has been typical, but disappointing -- an orgy of flag-waving and war-making. In front of a McKinleyville gas station the other night, a man danced on the sidewalk draped in a body-length American flag, a blinking red light strapped to his head -- all of this to the delight of passing motorists who honked their honks and yelled, "Yeah!"
Overnight flags have been dragged from the garage and attached to anything and everything -- houses, cars, whatever. At the grocery store, red-white-and-blue leftovers from Independence Day have been trotted out from overstock in warehouses.
Arab-Americans have been targeted for harassment, of course. Or anyone who looks like an Arab-American. That is to be expected in a time of demonization of "the enemy." And the supreme enemy is the suspected Osama bin Laden, identified as the terrorist leader who is behind all of this.
In this matter I cannot ignore the similarities between bin Laden and the character of Emmanuel Goldstein in George Orwell's 1984, still as relevant today as when it was written. The citizens celebrated the Week of Hate in which they revile the Enemy of the People, Goldstein, (who, it turns out) is an invention of the government.
I am looking into the eyes of a National Geographic photograph, the famous picture of a beautiful young woman with green eyes. This Afghani refugee girl graced the cover of the magazine in the mid '80s. ... I am thinking this girl is a woman now in the Middle East. She and people like her could be killed.
Let us look for the reasons for this violence, not react with more.
Marcella Strong, Arcata
Statement from Humboldt
Friends Meeting on the attacks on the World Trade Center,
We join with people across the country and around the world in expressing the hope that those who planned and orchestrated these terrible acts will soon be brought to justice under the rule of law. We are concerned, however, about how the U.S. government responds now.
First, we are concerned that the U.S. not avenge these attacks with attacks upon other innocent people who may happen to be of the same nationality, faith or ethnic group as the alleged perpetrators. This concern extends to protecting the safety and rights of people here at home. Many in this country of the Islamic faith or of Middle Eastern descent are worried that they may now become or have already become the unwarranted focus of suspicion in their communities or, worse, the subjects of unjust persecution.
Second, many in the administration and Congress have declared that a state of war now exists. We are concerned that these public statements may be stirring the popular will and expectation for war. We wonder: War against whom?
Cooler heads must prevail in the U.S. government during this time of crisis. War will only compound the tremendous assault on humanity that has already occurred. War is not the answer.
The people who committed these acts struck with hatred. They saw the people in the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the aircraft as faceless enemies. They denied the humanity of their victims. The U.S. must not commit the same sin by compounding the hatred, violence and injustice of these attacks with its own acts of terror and war against another people, most of whom are innocent of these crimes.
Finally, the people who planned these suicide attacks were able to draw volunteers from a growing number of people around the world who harbor deep resentment and anger toward the U.S. It is important that we in the U.S. try to hear and understand the sources of this anger. If we in the U.S. do not seek to understand and address the roots of this anger -- poverty, injustice, and hopelessness -- then the violence may well continue, no matter what the U.S. does to try to prevent it.
As members of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), we witness to that spirit of love which takes away the occasion of war. Out of darkness and tragedy, may God show us the path of true and lasting peace.
Thanks to the Friends Committee on National Legislation for its statement of Sept. 12, 2001, on which ours is largely based.
Humboldt Friends Meeting, P.O. Box 4786, Arcata, CA 95518
Whether you were sleeping in, having your first cup of coffee, driving to work or already there, the moment when you heard that two airplanes had smashed into the World Trade Center is one you're not likely to forget.
Shock, anger and sadness were on display this week in Humboldt County, as the county grieved for the loss of more than 5,000 innocents. In a place populated by proud cowboys and laid-back hippies, unity is a scarce commodity -- but not this week.
Individuals had widely differing responses to last Tuesday's events. Some called for nuclear retribution, others looked for a spark of hope in the overwhelming gloom. But the strongest sentiment was one of compassion. Reaching back to their pioneer heritage, Humboldters reacted as any pragmatic country people would: They tried to help. Some highlights:
Public television KEET-TV decided the best way to deal with the crisis would be to try and maintain a sense of normalcy for children. KEET continued to broadcast its regular morning and afternoon schedules, including Mister Rogers, Reading Rainbow and Sesame Street, and provided information on its website to help parents discuss the tragedy with their children.
The Northern California Community Blood bank received so many donations of blood in the hours after the attack that they had to ask people to make appointments. Over 80 pints of blood from Humboldt County were sent to the site of the disaster. More is still needed. Call 443-8007 to make an appointment.
Expressions of grief and respect popped up across the county, often spontaneously. The art quad at Humboldt State University became a focal point for many students, who brought flowers, candles and chalk to create an impromptu memorial. A service was held at the university on Friday.
Redwood Acres fairground saw a community memorial service Friday as well, with nearly 1,000 people gathering to light candles and remember the victims. The pregame ceremonies at Saturday's HSU football game became a tribute to the firefighters, law enforcement officers, medical personnel and volunteers trying to save lives in New York.
The airport remained closed for much of the week. Some flights resumed Sept. 14, under a tighter security plan than before. An armed security guard has been hired and cars will be parked at least 300 feet from the terminal. More than 30 flights were cancelled during the airport closure. The North Jetty and Samoa Dunes have been closed until further notice by the Coast Guard for security reasons.
Several groups began fund-raising efforts to help the families of those who died in the attack. Eureka High School students are selling ribbons of compassion and support.
Guadagno, manager of the Humboldt Bay Wildlife Refuge, was on hijacked Flight 93 that crashed in Shanksville, Penn. A memorial fund has been established at Six Rivers National Bank. Contributions should be made to account number 4400002046.
Humboldt Area Foundation opened a fund to help victims of the disaster within hours of its occurrence. Named the Sept. 11th Disaster Fund, it is being administered at no cost. All funds contributed will be given to the families of the deceased. Call 442-2993 for more information.
Bayshore Mall announced it is accepting contributions for the American Red Cross. Cash or checks can be brought to the Service Stop in the Mervyn's wing. Checks can also be sent directly to the Red Cross at P.O. Box 37243, Washington, D.C. 20013. Credit card donations can be made by calling 1-800-HELPNOW.
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© Copyright 2001, North Coast Journal, Inc.