Column: Living lives as usual thwarts terrorists

This column was supposed to be about my first flight experience since Sept. 11th. I was going to write about how I was not inconvenienced. How I showed up at the airport on Saturday all of 30 minutes before my flight and still made it with time to spare. How it seems our government has done an excellent job of protecting us in every way possible from another tragedy like the one that occurred just over two months ago.

After yesterday, maybe all those security precautions have proven to be just not enough.

At the time of this writing, no conclusions have been drawn as to whether Flight 587 from New York to Santo Domingo crashed due to mechanical failure or terrorist activity.

But as I watched, CNN interviewed multiple eyewitnesses over cell phones minutes after the explosion, saying that an entire engine fell away from the aircraft before the whole plane plummeted to Earth, strong consideration must be given to the possibility of sinister activity.

It happened during the same time of day in the same city as the horror of Sept. 11th, nearly two months to the day.

Maybe it is time that we accept that this war against terrorism isn’t just being fought half a world away, but the fronts include our own territory.

Maybe, despite all the precautions we could possibly think of, there is no way to truly call any large public gathering safe again. Maybe we need to understand that it won’t be the same again, at least, not for a very long time.

So, what can we do to protect ourselves? President Bush has said all Americans are soldiers in this war. We might not all be fighting, but we are all potential targets for an enemy who seeks only to disrupt and hate.

Besides being more aware of what is going on around us, what can we do to aid as soldiers in this war?

Live our lives the same as we always have.

These acts of terror have been waged against American life. As long as the American way of life continues, those who wish to destroy us will fail.

They will fail in their attempts to end our 200-plus year experiment in democracy. Our experiment of a country in which all people are created equal. A country in which all views won’t be agreed with, but all should be heard.

A way of life in which one value,freedom, is placed over all others, regardless of race, creed, or ethnicity.

I have a plane to catch at 8 a.m. back to Tampa this morning. I’ll look over my shoulder more than I did before. I’ll be more aware of goings-on around me. But I will not let these evil enactors of hate alter the way I live my life.

To do so would give the exact reaction they seek. Though highly unlikely, they might get to me and make me another victim in our war.

That’s OK, because right behind me will be another American waiting to fill my place, ready to carry on the way of life we all treasure. You can stop a plane, but you can’t stop our nation.

  • Collin Sherwin is a senior majoring in political science.