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There is before and after - and nothing else.

By Cory Spiller

Friday September 14, 2001

Headline Photo

Cory Spiller

There is before. And there is after.

A defining moment in our lives was forced upon us, a terrible moment we will never forget - a moment that will taint, alter and affect everything in our lives. Before the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center towers, our generation was apathetic, na•ve, listless and often indifferent. Now we are defined. We are the survivors of terror. There is before and there is after - there is nothing else.

Before - Many of us hoped for the worst for our newly elected President. We hoped for political misfortune to thwart his administration. We saw a leader that did not represent us and we took every opportunity to point out his flaws and mistakes. We wanted him to fail so that we might have the chance to put a better leader in his position. That has changed.

After - We realize we must stand behind Bush. We must stand behind his administration whether we care for him or not. He is our chosen leader, and we must stand behind his will and determination - for his will is our will. In no other time of our lives have we realized what it means to be Americans. A time will come again when we can quibble about taxes, budgets, character judgments and policy. For now George W. Bush is our leader, and he deserves our support.

Before - Air travel was fun and exciting, a symbol of the prosperity of our country. We boarded airplanes lazily and considered people who were scared paranoid. We saw security at airports as a nuisance. The most thought we gave to security checks was, "How am I going to squeeze my carry-on bag through that space?" This has changed.

After - It will now be impossible for us to see a commercial airplane for anything except what it could be: a bomb or a missile, and, in the hands of the wrong people, a weapon of awesome force. Commercial flight will never be the same. Security will not simply be beefed-up - it will be revolutionized. Security checks will have to be thorough - nothing even resembling a weapon will be allowed on a flight. The Federal Aviation Administration must come up with foolproof policies. Cockpit doors must be securely sealed, and pilots must be ordered not to allow anyone in under any circumstance. Passengers must realize that in a hijack situation they cannot simply sit there and be victims - they have the responsibility to act. Unfortunately, it may never be much fun again.

Before - Our generation enjoyed watching films that showed images of our cities being destroyed. For some sick reason it excited us. Whether they were images of aliens disintegrating our cities or images of a war-torn future, we viewed these images like wide-eyed children. We lived in a nation that has never seen destruction of this magnitude, and these films let us feel - if just for an instant - the terror that could be realized in a national disaster.

After - What once we enjoyed for an instant we will now live with for the rest of our lives. And although these films may continue to be made, they have been tainted by reality. They will never sit well in our stomachs. Anything that will recall the images that have been burned in our eyes will become intolerable.

Before - Our nation was an invincible titan. We were beautiful, powerful and indestructible. We took risks; we accepted impossible challenges, and we succeeded. Or at least that's how we felt. The World Trade Center towers were this titan's sturdy legs, and the terrorists took our perception of the country out at the knees.

After - Our nation is a defenseless giant. With all of our guns, planes and amazing technology, we could not stop two dozen men with knives and box-cutters from killing 20,000 of our citizens. We are a blind giant. We have been hit and hit hard. But we can't see our enemy. We can stampede through the world striking randomly and clumsily at possible enemies, but we may never find them - and this frustration consumes us. This giant must be calmed.

Before - Our generation was young.

After - We are old.

Before - We were strong

After - We must be bold.


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