T&D, Sept. 12, 2001
At the beginning of the Cold War, school children, in drill after drill, were trained to seek refuge under their desks in case of nuclear attack. They learned to live with the threat of war.
Now, nearly 50 years later, their grandchildren are brought face to face with the fact that America still can be vulnerable to acts of war with the terrorists' attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, causing pandemonium in New York City and Washington, D.C.
A group of students at William J. Clark Middle School in Orangeburg shared their reactions to the attacks within U.S. borders.
"I didn't hear about the attacks until fourth period," 13-year-old Minisha Kabisatpathy said. "I don't think I'll ever forget this. I was shocked when I heard about it. I'll always remember this."
Too young to remember Desert Storm, the students have nothing in the small range of their experiences to which they can compare this situation.
"Nothing has ever made me feel like this," 13-year-old Kayla Butler said. "This is the only thing that ever shocked me like this. It's scary."
Until they were faced with the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the students thought of the United States as invincible. They never entertained the thought that this country could be attacked. Their feelings of security have been shaken.
"If they did it in New York, one of the biggest places in the United States, they could do it any where," 13-year-old Rebecca Ackiss said. "We could be walking in the mall, and it could be attacked."
Even though they were shocked by Tuesday's events, none of the students wanted the United States to retaliate for the attacks on American sites.
"I think they should just rebuild the Trade Center and the Pentagon and tighten security," 13-year-old Ryan Maulion said.
"I don't think they should retaliate either," 13-year-old Justin Jones said.
"I've heard they have enough explosives to blow up the world, and I don't think they should use them. If it happens again, then the United States should take charge."
All but one of the students believed in the power of negotiating and wanted the United States to enter into talks with the perpetrators of the act of terrorism.
"How can you talk with someone who has bombed the communications in the country?" 11-year-old Meghan Wallace asked. "I don't know what they should do, but most of the time talking doesn't do any good anyway."
Some students expressed personal reasons for not wanting any further conflict.
"The one thing that scares me is, if there is a major crisis, they'll need more men," Justin said. "I've got people in my family who are over 18, and they'll have to go."
"My dad was in the Navy and used to work on a carrier," Rebecca said. "If there is a war, they might make him go back. I think they should rebuild and get on with life. Fighting wouldn't bring back the people that were killed."
"That's right," Kayla agreed. "Retaliation will only cause more confusion and make things go on until there's no point. Then it would be too late."