Honor the flag by purchasing your own

Published 12:42 am Wednesday, October 17, 2001

In the month following the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, I have decided that I want to move on with life, though with a thoughtful eye on the evening news to stay abreast of what's happening.
From a personal standpoint, I suppose I have been through my range of emotions – from shock, to grief, to anger, and now, to resignation.
But the world I decided to return to isn't the same world I left on September 11. In fact, it seems as if everything has changed.
My mother called me last night concerned about a planned flight to and from Baltimore, Md. She said she was terrified of flying since she saw two planes explode against the skyline of New York.
I told her in my best "it'll be OK" voice that she shouldn't let her concerns overwhelm her. I encouraged her to take the trip, though I begged her to "up" her senses a bit. My comments were that she needed to be sensitive to anyone exhibiting strange behavior or to any strange things she may see, from briefcases sitting silently in corners without someone holding them to white powder that could appear on any number of items.
She reluctantly agreed to go.
My point isn't that I wanted her to go. In fact, I am quite concerned about her trip. That said, I know that we cannot allow a few sick people with a depraved indifference for human life affect how we live. At least I want to know that. I want to get back on track. To see things returned to "normal." I want to move on. And that's pretty typical, I would guess. After all, none of my loved ones were injured or killed in the attacks. I don't stand a chance of walking on foreign soil with a rifle in my hand hunting Taliban soldiers.
So I, like so many other Americans who feel as if we have dutifully shown our respect and who have been touched by the events of September 11, want to move on. Though we still feel and show respect for our military men and women and for the lost loved ones on September 11, we want our lives to quietly resume.
Easier said than done.
The Birmingham News and Mobile Register were flooded with stories Tuesday morning of people who found white powder in a number of places. Some found it in mail, while at least one other reported seeing a white powdery substance in a box of macaroni and cheese.
Birmingham's FBI bureau is taking calls day and night as terrified people report what they at least think could be strains of anthrax, a deadly bacteria that has been the latest story related to terrorism. Unknown assailants who have sent the disease to media industrial giants and shipping plants are waging this "biological" warfare on our country.
In fact, our neighbors to the south were the first to report it.
I don't know who's doing it, but I don't necessarily think it has to be related to the Taliban, Bin Laden or anyone else with deep ties to the Middle East. Maybe it's a couple of Unabomber-types who are fed up with technology and who live in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest. At this point, no one knows.
Looking a little deeper at the overall issue, though, there is one irrefutable certainty. The world will never be as it was before, no matter how much we wish otherwise.
Terrorism on American shores that successfully killed thousands of people has never been seen. Biological and germ warfare has never been waged on this country. Airline passengers have never been so leery. Antibiotics have never been in such demand – at least in my lifetime.
New words, new phrases, new ways of life for us all are coming at rapid and steady rate in the wake of September 11. A few weeks ago, I felt compelled to encourage people not to let the lessons of the day be forgotten. Those comments seem ridiculous to me now. Who could forget? We can't buy a bag of flour without suspicion anymore. We will never set foot on an airline with quite the same level of comfort as we once did.
Many years ago, I knew a person who was involved in a head-on collision with someone who apparently wanted to end his life that night. She said afterward from a hospital bed where she was being treated for serious injuries, "I will never meet a car on the road again without wondering what's going through the driver's head."
I think we all feel that way. As angry as I am, and as sensitive as this situation has made me, I will, for the love of the America I have always known, try to move on with life as best I can. I think I understand now that it will not be the same. That doesn't mean, though, that I plan to allow the threat of terrorism destroy my life.
Brian Blackley is publisher of The Atmore Advance. He may be reached at 368-2123 or by e-mail at brian.blackley@atmoreadvance.com.

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