2001-09-15 / Columnists

On The Beach… With Beverly Baxter

My thoughts, my heart, and my prayers go out to those in our community who may have had loved ones who perished in the attack on the World Trade Center Towers. It is understood that many firefighters who reside in Rockaway were called to duty and may also be among the missing.
   As I was all prepared to sit down and type my column, the topic this week would have been about the results of the primary race; however, that, and almost everything else, seems so trite and trivial. Now, I can only merely scramble for words to describe the indescribable.

I was in my office on Long Island when the attacks occurred. Not having a television, I listened to 1010 WINS radio all day. I could not begin to comprehend the magnitude of the destruction. It was only until I was diverted and forced to take the back roads through the five towns in order to get home to Rockaway.

I passed by several synagogues on my way through Woodmere and Cedarhurst when I saw police and barricades around the synagogues to protect them. As I drove west into Rockaway, I began to notice up in the clear blue sky a funnel of dark smoke streaming across the peninsula. I pulled over on Beach Channel Drive to look at the Manhattan Skyline. They were just...gone. The two gleaming testaments to our spirit of freedom, capitalism, commerce and democracy. It was a dimming mantra in my head: How could this be? This is America! How could this have gone undetected and not intercepted? Or was this most horrible act of terrorism, in fact, an indictment on our lax national security system.

Now, the mighty sleeping dragon has woken up. With our monuments to and symbols of our freedom lost, so has our sense of innocence and we will never again be the same. One didn't have to know someone personally who died; thankfully, I didn't; but a part of me died with the many who did and I'm angry for that loss.
   We have no choice but to find those accountable and retaliate. Because this act of terrorism was so successful, I fear that it will be a green light to all those religious radicals to attempt further acts of terrorism on our soil. We must respond severely and quickly and insist that our borders, our airports and airspace be better protected. How could this happen here? There is no answer, except for the fact that it did. 

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