A new day of infamy

(Editor’s note: This editorial was originally published in the Enterprise on Sept. 11, 2001. Then-Features Editor Bruce Young wrote it on deadline that morning, with input from other staff members, as news of the attacks unfolded and as other staff members scrambled to get it into the paper. We reprint the editorial here, as we do every Sept. 11, because it reminds us of how hard it was to make sense of those events in their first two hours, and because this essay succeeded in that context. We stand by its call for “calm heads,” and we still “hope that we do not stoop to [the terrorists’] level.” Note: The report of a car bomb at the State Department, cited here, later turned out to be false.)

Remember this day: Tuesday, September 11, 2001.

We have been inculcated in the history of Pearl Harbor and what led up to that “day which will live in infamy.” But did we learn anything from that December day in 1941? Perhaps only that it is difficult to maintain a huge global presence and watch our own backyard.

In this business, there’s no way of telling when news will happen.

This morning while others in the Adirondacks went to school and work, we at the Adirondack Daily Enterprise stood dumbfounded for about 10 minutes while reports of the World Trade Center fire came in. As this is being written it seems that the city of New York and Washington, D.C. are coming completely undone. The airports, tunnels and mass transit are all closed … as well as all air flights within the United States. It seems like the United States is under attack.

Fires were caused by planes crashing into the building — an unidentified terrorist attack. About an hour later, the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. was reported to be on fire. Trading at the New York Stock Exchange was suspended indefinitely, and the White House and the Sears Tower were evacuated. Then a plane was confirmed to have crashed on a helicopter pad beside the Pentagon. Next came the collapse of the World Trade Center towers. The State Department has just suffered a car bomb explosion. The number of injured could not possibly be confirmed, at this moment, in all the confusion.

At the first glance, the bad guys made the first move. We always suspected — joked, even — that such a day was coming. While we do not know who “the bad guys” are at the moment, we do know that when the smoke clears — and it will clear — we will need calm heads to deal with the level of catastrophe involved.

Perhaps the first thing to do will be to pray for the dead and injured. Let us be helpful to their families as we always are in such desperate times. This country has periodically found itself in such dire straits.

What can we learn from all this? The world comes to the backwoods in an instant. We are all affected by such a tragedy. Humanity has suffered — not only will we not sleep as well at night anymore, but we may become as impulsive as those who obviously have us in their sights.

Let us hope that we do not stoop to their level. And let us all come together for a moment of silence and reflection.


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