It was no nightmare. It was not another one of those doomsday movies. True, it was like watching a movie -- complete with debris-covered victims running for safety with Godzilla in pursuit. But real people were dying.
The terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 -- a new date that will live in infamy -- were for real. The images that came across the TV screen were scary and for sure there was fear in the land. One woman pushing 90, for example, called her sister halfway across the country saying, "The world is coming to an end? What do I do?"
Fortunately, the world is not coming to an end. But nations must ask what will they do next to make sure that there are no more surreal attacks like those on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
We sense a growing and overwhelming anger with the terrorists. How could people do this?
The mind wanders back to Dec. 7, 1941, and Pearl Harbor. The surprise attack triggered our entry into World War II. So enraged by the attack were the American people that they pulled together and produced an unprecedented wartime response. Remember how Emperor Hirohito said he feared Japan had awakened a sleeping giant and left him with a terrible resolve?
Those were military targets in Hawaii. This time the enemy struck at civilians. It's one thing to bomb Marine barracks in Lebanon. Terrorists who have become our enemy in this 21st century war wreak havoc on civilians. That may fuel a new resolve for our fighting forces. And once again it may help unify a nation behind an effort to root out evil.
More than one retired military man has indicated that they wish they could put their uniforms back on and return to action. The American public is outraged.
But President Bush, in his remarks Wednesday morning, made it clear we are "facing a different enemy than we've ever faced before." Our reaction will not happen overnight or even tomorrow. It's clear the average person wants action. But we must be patient.
For this time in our battle with terrorists we need to do it right. This may mean waiting for other nations to join the effort. This time we need Japan and Germany, our former enemies, and Russia and China and our allies and our friends in the Mideast to get behind us on this one.
All freedom-loving nations must cooperate to squash terrorism. Not all nations belong in the friend category. The president has made it clear that any nation that provides a safe haven or safe harbor or otherwise supports the terrorists will be equally as guilty as the cowardly terrorists.
Now that a suicide bombing has hit our streets, American people may have a greater appreciation why Israel strikes back after its long struggle in the cauldron called the Mideast.
After the Cold War many people thought we could enjoy a lasting peace. But we are in a new world now. We must realize that our nation can never let its guard down. That likely will mean beefing up the defense budget and increasing military manpower.
Amid our concern and mourning in the wake of the attacks this week we should pray for peace even if peace has become a relative concept.
The sleeping giant has been awakened. The American public never wants this tragedy repeated. We want to make sure the scary scenes belong only in the movies or on TV.
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