Stunned

Staff Reactions To The Terrorist Attack

September 13, 2001

The following are the thoughts of members of The Sun's Editorial Board about the terror Tuesday.

THE DEPTH of Tuesday's tragedy became clear throughout the morning as I watched the news reports. Thousands dead. Massive destruction. But it wasn't until I thought about my young daughters that I felt the terrorist attack as a personal blow.

Mayor Martin O'Malley was on TV telling everyone in the city to "act calmly and go home and hug your kids." My mind turned to my Jayme, 6, and Shelby, 4.

That's when it hit me: Their lives have changed forever. The world they'll inhabit won't be like the one I've known.

For most of us, safety and security were a given. An event such as this was unthinkable.

Now my daughters will never enter a tall building or take a seat on an airplane without feeling they're in some danger.

Safety and security are like all other human needs, from food and water to sleep and shelter: You don't fully appreciate them until they're taken away. Knowing what was taken away from my children Tuesday breaks my heart.

We ache for the boys and girls in New York and Washington whose parents were snatched from them in such horrific fashion. But make no mistake: All of our children were robbed.

- Todd Windsor

ESPECIALLY those of us without the perspective of remembering the attack on Pearl Harbor, we are struggling to find a context for Tuesday's horrific events.

Inevitably, there are questions about what is an overreaction and what isn't, even as we reluctantly come to accept that our world will never be the same.

What seems clear for the future is that heightened (and time-consuming and probably infuriating) security measures that will change domestic air travel aren't an overreaction but a necessity. Airline-ticket surcharges are a possibility that I may even come to embrace.

None of this is to say that there weren't ridiculous elements to the aftermath. The dump trucks surrounding City Hall come to mind.

Still, we had, for the most part, been insulated. Even travel in which we had noted the precautions other nations take was no preparation.

-Jacqueline Thomas

I'VE GOT a movie pitch. Action adventure. High budget.

Terrorists converge on three American airports and hijack four commercial airliners. They slam two into the World Trade Center. A third crashes into the Pentagon.

On Monday, that story line would have seemed silly even in Hollywood. Too fantastic. Borderline ridiculous.

Today, they're digging for bodies in New York while the rest of us try to figure out how this happened, and what we should do about it.

Me? I'm still trying to figure out how to feel. I'm sad and plenty angry, like most everyone else. But I'm also a little fearful of how this will warp our sense of who we are.

I fear we have no choice but to respond with a violence and aggression we have avoided for most of my life. I fear that my own sense of security won't return until we've done things that I thought were unspeakable on Monday.

This changes nearly everything about the way we view the world, our place in it, and our obligation to defend ourselves. Over the next few weeks, I fear we'll have to meet our enemies on a moral level I don't equate with America.

Necessary that may be. But comforting? Not even if it were just a movie plot.

-Stephen Henderson

FOR YEARS, Pentagon strategists and security analysts spun out nightmare scenarios of truly grandiose acts of terrorist brutality. Now conjecture has become reality. And it's obvious to everyone now that it's not hard for a fanatic drunk on righteous rage to inflict unbelievable carnage on innocents.

Life won't be the same. It will be worse.

We will be less free. We will endure more surveillance, more delays. Access to public buildings, parks, monuments and college campuses will be limited. Travel will be more difficult. Resources will be drained from schools and other public services to pay for more police, more soldiers, more security, more military operations in far-flung lands.

More bombs will kill innocents - U.S. bombs dropped to punish terrorists and bombs from other terrorists planted to avenge those sorties. And more people will act with hatred and suspicion toward those who look different or come from countries or religions many will blame for the terror.

In short, in addition to their devastating toll on the victims and their families, Tuesday's horrifying events promise to make all our lives meaner, uglier and more difficult.

To limit the damage, and the terrorists' success in undermining our way of life, all we can do is try to limit the ugliness by visiting our hatred and retribution only on those who are actually guilty of the atrocities.

-Franz Schneiderman

TERRORISM is not war. For all its gripping terror and senseless horror, war is an expectation of the unexpected. Acts of terrorism have no such expectation, making them nearly impossible for the mind to grasp, even for those who have seen the violent tragedies of war.

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