September 11, 2001

The rebirth of patriotism in America

 ... children and adults join in a candlelight vigil

by Bernadette Mahoney

"America is being attacked!" I couldn't believe the words coming out of the radio. The second attack came before I had absorbed the meaning of those first words. When reality finally set in so did the horror. Who could have done this and why? The name Osama Bin Laden came up. Was he the enemy? If we can find him and bring him to justice, will that end terrorism? My head was filled with questions that had no answers.

As I kept listening to the radio, I realize that this attack was well-planned and calculated to elicit fear, confusion and terror. It was "in the name of Islam" someone said. A holy war! "Islam is a religion based upon the teaching of the prophet Mohammed, believing in one God (Allah) and in Paradise and Hell, and having a body of law put forth in the Koran and Sunna: the Moslem religion", according to the dictionary.

At church on that next Sunday, we were assured that there was nothing in the Koran that sanctioned killing. Obviously, this attack was made by fanatics using their own interpretation of the Islamic religion to carry out their brutal act.

At first there was the feeling of fear, horror, apprehension and sadness. Then, a great feeling of patriotism took over and millions of American flags began to appear everywhere.

President Bush mentioned on Thursday that we should all light a candle and stand in front of our homes at 7:00 p.m. on Friday in honor of all those who died in the attack. I belong to a group of seniors who go line dancing on Friday nights. Our teacher called us all and asked us to bring candles.

At 7:00, when we were lining up on East Foster Street with our candles, I saw a young boy ride by on his bicycle holding a candle. He disappeared down a side street and then reappeared a few minutes later with his whole neighborhood. They all joined us in singing all the patriotic songs we knew. Then, one mother brought five children up front who, she said, wanted to pledge allegiance to our flag. We joined them. Finally, the little ones sang a song. Cars going by honked their horns and waved. The children were so excited. We all went away feeling very proud to be Americans.

Our lives have been changed forever. We may have to spend the rest of our lives looking over our shoulders, and the tightened security will certainly be an inconvenience. However, now that an attack has happened right before our very eyes, and we realize how vulnerable we are, I think we've become more aware of what our priorities should be.

Afghanistan does not look like a place to wage a war. It does look like a great place to hide. I think the best thing we can do right now is to pray that our military, intelligence forces and all others who have charge of planning a response to this attack will make the right moves at the right times.

As for Osama bin Laden, if America can prove he was the mastermind behind the attack that took almost 7,000 lives, I think he should be considered a war criminal and tried as such.

October 5, 2001

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