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ISSUE 115 VOL 15 PUBLISHED 3/15/2002

Light in the darkness: living six months in fear

By Ben Schleuss
Contributing Writer

Friday, March 15, 2002

The terrorists are winning. Our lives as Americans have been forever altered since the events of Sept. 11.

At the six month anniversary of the attacks a “Tribute of Light” was dedicated to the memory of those who lost their lives on that day. It is now our duty as the survivors to ensure that their deaths were not in vain.

We accomplish this monumental task by reversing the chain of events that have taken place over the past six months. We need to stop living in fear and rediscover the hope that was buried in a pile of rubble that tragic morning.

As the most powerful nation in the world, it is easy to go into a third world country and install a government that we are comfortable with. It is harder to provide assistance to a government that the people of that country are comfortable with. But unless the United States wishes to be a permanent fixture in Afghanistan their government must be able to sustain itself with the support of the people.

For the past six months we have sacrificed some of our civil liberties in order to feel safe. It is our unabashed defense of our personal freedom that makes our country unique. To permanently forfeit these basic tenants of personal freedom would result in the terrorist biggest victory. And there is little correlation to these restrictions and the prevention of attack. Spend a week in Belfast and tell me how safe you feel with soldiers carrying guns on every corner.

“Dead or Alive?” Did an American President really say that? No international criminal tribunal? Do we want the military serving as judge, jury, and executioner? We haven’t in the past, and for good reason. Perhaps it might be beneficial to hold him publicly accountable for his actions? It is important that the rest of the Muslim world see him for what he is and not as a martyr. If he is killed without properly answering for his crimes there is a chance his death might mean more to Islamic fundamentalists than his life did.

We need to take our blinders off. There are many groups of people around the world who despise Americans. Many of those people have a good reason to do so, just as many do not.

In the procurement of freedom, our government has done some questionable things. We trust in our leaders to make those tough choices so that we don’t have to. But it would be hypocritical to benefit from those choices while not wanting to be held accountable for the negative aspects of said decisions.

Sept. 11 was one of he darkest days in our nation's history. It is therefore fitting that the memorial to the victims consist of two columns of light. Stretching out into the sky where the World Trade Center would have been, the illumination can be seen for miles.

These beams of light commemorate not only those who died, but they also represent resiliency and hope needed in the coming months and years. And it is that type of light that will vanquish the darkness of terrorism.

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