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Anchorage, AK
Sept. 21, 2001

A different face of war -- that of cowardly terrorism -- hit the shore and skyline of America on September 11, 2001, which will be remembered as another "day of infamy". Again we seemed unprepared to prevent, if not halt, the inevitable disaster, as on December 7, 1941. Now, as was the case almost 60 years ago, the diverse people of America will, if just for awhile, put aside their differences and unite together.

In my 48 years of life, I've never seen America so united. Probably the last time we were this together was when our country achieved the success of our space program by landing & returning safely three astronauts from the earth to the moon in July 1969. Yet that was amidst the divisive Vietnam War. When I was born, our country was fighting shoulder to shoulder with other nations in another "police action" also called the Korean War. Yet our political and military leaders were also divided, as in Vietnam, on strategy and purpose and therefore could only produce a stalemate rather than a victory. I have witnessed portions of our country help other areas within our borders distraught with natural disasters. Even our Persian Gulf War, another quasi-police action rationalized and reinforced by Congressional resolutions and multinational involvement -- rather than a formal Declaration of War -- produced a short-lived and shortsighted victory. These instances of the past half century do not compare with the solidarity I have witnessed on commercial network television, cable TV, newspapers, magazines, internet, and in my current hometown.

In Anchorage, Alaska, there have been, and still are, many fundraising efforts, public mourning services, candlelight vigils, and personal displays of patriotism. I have never seen so many Old Glories flying, draped, hung, or taped as in these past 10 days. There could be more flags visibly observed but every store that sold our flag has been out of stock within 48 ours of the devastating attack. Every neighborhood and business district within Alaska's largest city has many examples of the Star Spangled Banner prominently emanating from a window, a door, a wall, a rooftop, or a parking lot. I have seen billboards and marquees and signs and decals that express "God Bless America" or "United We Stand" or "We will Never Forget September 11, 2001" or "Pray for the Victims". Cars and trucks have smaller flags tied, taped, or mounted on antennas, windows, bumpers, or in the back of their truck beds. School children, the local Firefighters Union, broadcasting stations, many businesses, and many charities have been raising needed donations to send to New York City, Washington, DC, and Pennsylvania. During the first 7 days, the local blood bank received so many donors and potential donors that there was over a 2-3 hour wait before drawing blood and new waiting lists had to be re-scheduled for weeks later. Many churches opened their doors as temporary shelters for the thousands of stranded airline passengers from the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport during the FAA's nationwide airport and airspace closure. US Air Force fighter and interceptor jets patrolled the now quiet, but normally hectic, skies over Anchorage and the rest of Alaska. The Trans-Alaska Oil Pipeline saw increased security and the Port of Valdez, the southern terminus of the pipeline, stopped loading operations for oil tankers for awhile. The Emergency Operations Center of Anchorage was manned by Mayor George Wuerch and emergency disaster preparedness and law enforcement personnel while most daily activities of local government and businesses tried to function as normally as possible, with some exceptions. Alaska -- thousands of miles and four time zones from the crash sites -- felt the terror of the homeland and responded accordingly.

Nationwide, both Democratic and Republican parties in Congress closed ranks to rally around the nation's crisis, giving unprecedented support to President George W. Bush, whom many had earlier criticized as being too inexperienced to run the country. Yet nationwide polls have given "Dubya" the highest job approval rating ever given to a sitting president during this crisis. Pres. Bush was practically given a "blank check" of $40 billion dollars by Congress to fight the terrorists and to rebuild New York City and the Pentagon. Religious leaders of many denominations and sects and faiths have stood together in public ceremonies admonishing the criminal acts of the terrorists. Public and private prayers are paramount, as this Nation is truly "under God" for the first time in decades. Telethons staffed by many entertainment figures have raised additional millions of dollars to supplement relief efforts. We also have seen, on TV, the thousands of volunteers work side by side with the military and law enforcement and firefighters and emergency health personnel in both New York City and at the Pentagon as they dig through the rubble searching for bodies and the black boxes of the crashed passenger jets. Offers of increased assistance have been given from the governors of every state in America. No one should have any doubt that America is united.

As our political leaders listen to plans to carry forth this war on terrorism, it is important that we the people not lose our civil liberties in the process of securing our borders, our skies, and our cities. We must be vigilant at home but carry the noble fight to those who dared to destroy our liberties. For the first time since the Civil War, and the War of 1812, and the Revolutionary War, Americans have tasted, first-hand, what war is all about, as we sift through the ashes and rubble in our homeland. This is no excuse to change our democratic and constitutional principles which makes us different than other countries around the world. No national identification card is needed; no suspension of habeas corpus is needed; no martial law is needed; no increased applications of Project Echelon on internet users is needed, without probable cause. What is needed is the resolve to stay united to defeat those who struck the first blows against peaceful civilians and not to strangle the freedoms of the rest of us who stand by in awesome shock. We need to pray for our leaders that they be given the wisdom to make the right decisions during these difficult days.

The people of America will unite together to help console the surviving family members of those thousands who perished. The people of America will unite together to help heal the hurt and wounds of the surviving victims. The people of America will unite together to help grieve with one another in public and private places -- in churches, in synagogues, in mosques, in temples, in their homes, in their workplaces, in public arenas, and on the internet. The people of America will unite together to help fight the evil perpetrators who planned, financed, and executed the USA's "21st century Pearl Harbor". The people of America will unite together.

Anchorage, Alaska

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