What others say

Posted: Monday, September 17, 2001

Attacks take away nation's innocence

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.

-- Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

Sept. 12


Voice of the Times

Terrorist assault creates a nation at war

Tuesday's attack against the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and other targets will change many things in America, perhaps virtually everything about the way our society functions and protects itself.

The attack was the Pearl Harbor of the 21st century. And like the bombing of America's Pacific fleet in 1941, which brought the United States into World War II, the terrorist attacks seem likely to bring us into a new and largely undefined war, one in which the enemy is difficult to identify and deal with.

The attack will almost certainly change the way we as a nation feel about national defense, particularly our defenses against suicide bombers and death squads like those who took control of airliners in flight and crashed them into two of the nation's highest-profile buildings.

Many thousands were killed and injured, more than in some of the nation's most historic wartime battles. And millions of people, both here and abroad, were stunned as they watched on live television as the twin towers of the World Trade Center collapsed, crushing an untold number of trapped office workers and emergency personnel working in and around the building to rescue them.

The psychological damage of Tuesday's events is, for now, incalculable. One thing seems certain, that all those who work in public safety everywhere in the nation must be on a heightened alert for an indefinite period. And national security agencies will be under extreme pressure to counter new threats and to track down those responsible for this dastardly plot.

The attacks created an eerie effect on Alaska. In Anchorage, with all airports shut down, the skies were clear of all but military aircraft, an unprecedented scene in one of the nation's most aviation-minded cities. Military bases went on high security, resulting in miles-long traffic jams as military personnel and civilian employees tried to report for work. In Anchorage, government and civilian buildings were evacuated, employees sent home and meetings canceled.

Many have expected a terrorist attack against domestic American targets for some time. The good news, if there is any good news about this horrible event, is that it did not involve a thermonuclear device, delivered either by airborne missile or some surface delivery system. That remains a possibility, one that the nation's security agencies must take seriously.

Will America become, like Israel, an armed society under permanent siege? Hopefully the answer to that will be ''No.'' But the war against terrorists is now joined. Where it goes from here is impossible to predict.

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