We, as Americans, will never be the same again.
That sentiment likely will have been repeated innumerable times by the time this newspaper landed in your driveway today, but it bears repeating.
We were innocent -- maybe even naive -- in thinking that our enemies could not reach us.
As the world's last remaining superpower, we felt a sort of stability, smugness even, and security in our own safety. Even given the warning signs -- previous terrorist attacks over the years against aircraft and, perhaps most significant in hindsight, the last bombing of the World Trade Center -- we allowed ourselves to be lulled into a feeling of being invincible. The warnings were there, but we didn't fully recognize them.
The last time American soil was attacked, it was Dec. 7, 1941. Our enemy was clear, and our retaliation against Japan was swift, culminating in the eventual detonation of two atomic bombs and the end of World War II.
Similarities between the attack on Pearl Harbor and the attack yesterday are undeniable. In 1941, the world had become a dangerous place. A major war raged without U.S. involvement, and we did not recognize our own vulnerability. But the attack on Pearl Harbor changed that. Our military retaliation against Japan was swift and complete.
Today, we awake knowing the world has changed. It is once again a dangerous place, with a war raging in which we were not fully engaged. Our enemies no longer wear uniforms clearly identifying themselves. They don't own battleships or fly fighters, but they clearly do know how to fly. And they have enough knowledge of the U.S.' weaknesses to find their way into our nation's capitol and into the hearts of our cities.
Tuesday's attacks against both innocent civilians and our nation's military center will wake up Americans once more to the changing and dangerous world we live in. This time, punishing our aggressors will not be as clear a task. But just as in 1941, we are united in our collective horror, our sadness, and in our resolve to bring justice.
Fairbanks is more than 4,000 miles from New York City and Washington, D.C., But distance is not a factor. Whether you live in New York City or Fairbanks, the message these terrorists bring is that no one is safe.
We mourn the loss of our fellow Americans, and the loss of our innocence.
We are joined together by the pain and fear of being hit by an enemy we can't see and don't understand.
We are all affected by the death and destruction of Sept. 11, 2001 -- a day that will be remembered just as generations remember Dec. 7, 1941.
Indeed, we will never be the same.
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