This Caledonian-Record editorial comment was first published on Sept. 12, 2001.
With a country as diverse as ours, it takes something pretty extreme to bring about widespread unity in these United States.
Well something quite extreme did happen.
And while we’re happy to note that all across the nation there are examples of a unified America, we are deeply saddened because the extreme event that brought about this unification was an incredibly tragic one.
We were attacked. Just before 9 a.m. Tuesday Americans lost the luxury of only equating large-scale horrendous attacks with some far-away foreign country. Two commercial airline planes crashed into the heart of New York City, crumbling the World Trade Center towers. About an hour later another passenger plane slammed into the Pentagon in Washington D.C.
If FDR were alive today, there is no doubt that in his mind Sept. 11, 2001, is “a date which will live in infamy.”
Indeed, not since Pearl Harbor 60 years ago has the country been the target of a massive, coordinated strike from a foreign enemy. Never has the continental United States been so penetrated and brutalized by one of its enemies.
A total of four planes - two owned by United Airlines and two by American Airlines - were hijacked. The terrorists then directed the planes to their destructive ends. The fourth plane crashed into the ground in Pennsylvania. There was speculation that its intended target was President Bush’s Camp David retreat in Maryland. Another suggestion is that it was on its way to Washington, D.C. to wreak further havoc on the nation’s capital.
The three other places most definitely found their marks. As thousands of people were settling into their work day in the twin Trade Center towers and at the Pentagon, unprecedented disaster struck. The death and injury toll as this point is unknown, but it will be staggering. Every person on the four planes died. Numerous people in the three buildings were either injured or killed. Many rescue personnel trying to save lives sacrificed their own.
If there was ever a time for the investigating bodies of the United States to do their jobs flawlessly and swiftly, now is the time. Those people responsible for the violence must be brought to justice and punished. It must be done quickly to alleviate American fears of further acts of violence and to prove to the world the country’s might and resolve in times of crisis. But our fervor for revenge must not transcend our duty to the Constitution and the justice demanded for all.
This is a score that must be settled, but only when the culprits have been lawfully and positively identified should our retaliatory blow be dealt. Making victims out of innocent civilians is not a strategy worth repeating and would reduce us to the level of the perpetrators behind this massacre.
As investigators set about the task of routing out the criminals involved in the attack, all Americans bear the responsibility of helping the healing to begin. For thousands of rescue and medical personnel, the healing is a literal obligation. For others, further removed from the tragedy, blood can be donated and prayers can be offered.
Our hearts go out to those people who were dealt a personal loss through the tragedy. We offer special condolences to any of our readers personally affected. For the rest of us, we share the burden of knowing our wonderful country is not above deep and brutal infiltration.
Despite this harsh reality, we urge all Americans to keep the faith in a democracy that has survived so many tests and endured so many hardships. This, too, we shall overcome.