Learning to live with the new reality
Sept. 23, 2001
Mrs. McAdory's sixth grade class at Noxapater school in Winston County got it just about right. Like so many other young Americans, they reacted to the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon with a display of patriotism colored red, white and blue.
A student in the class, Beth Reynolds, alerted her community that all of the students would be flying flags at football games, wearing the patriotic colors and praying for the victims and the country.
In fact, many other local school children also got it right. They collected money and other items for children in New York, even drawing cards of sympathy that they hope will help ease the pain of losing loved ones.
Brittany Stahl, an 11-year-old student at Southeast Elementary School, wrote poetry. Samuel Stewart, a seventh grader at Southeast Middle School wrote a paper describing how he felt when he leaned a plane had hit the Pentagon, where his uncle worked. (His uncle was unhurt, working in another building.)
Greg Cartmell, a Meridian-based artist and overall creative person who does business all over the world, worried over the weekend about friends in New York from whom he had not heard.
All across Mississippi, we are leaning to live with a new reality. When traveling on airplanes, arrive at the airport early. Pack light. No aerosol cans. No razors. No knives. Expect delays. Be vigilant. No one knows when the next round of terror will break.
Everywhere you looked last week, employees of local businesses were getting it right. In banks and fast food restaurants, churches, print and broadcast media offices, stores and shops all over town, we wore red, white and blue ribbons. A powerful statement that American remains, as one of our sister newspapers in Oklahoma put it, "strong, proud, brave."
Dr. Jnos Radvnyi got it right, too. Once the highest-ranking Communist Party official in his native Hungary, he defected to the U.S. in the late 1960s and holds the chair in International Studies at Mississippi State University. He cherishes freedom. As a recognized expert in these matters, he shared some observations at a town meeting called last week by U.S. Rep. Chip Pickering.
Radvnyi said, "An era ended on Sept. 11. What was true yesterday is not true today."
It's a new world, too populated by extremists and terrorists who attempt to use our freedoms against us. We are confronting a new crisis in proportions we are only beginning to understand.
The question was asked at the Pickering meeting, "Why does Osama bin Laden hate us?" As the risk of over-simplifying a very complicated situation, Radvnyi responded that bin Laden hates the U.S. so much he declared war on us in 1996. Perhaps too little attention was paid at the time.
Bin Laden carries fierce resentment against America, Pickering said, because we embrace the nation of Israel. The Camp David Accords of 1976 that brought Israel and Egypt together drove bin Laden berserk. The U.S. actually supported his terrorist actions against the Russians after Red Army troops invaded Afghanistan in 1979. When the Russians left, he turned on us.
In 1993, after Iraqi troops invaded Kuwait, bin Laden was incensed that his native country, Saudi Arabia, allowed a U.S. military presence in lands he considers "holy lands." No Americans or non-Muslims should be allowed, he said.
Radvnyi believes bin Laden's means of financial support must be eliminated, along with the terrorism infrastructure that sustains him. He believes that can only be accomplished by an international coalition backed by military force and a supportive public willing to go the distance.
So the president is getting it just about right, too.
Buddy Bynum is editor of The Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, ext. 3213, or e-mail him at email@example.com.