Marine feels greater support from public
SUMMIT COUNTY – For Jeff Gebhardt, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks meant a greater respect for his job.
The 23-year-old will finish four years of duty with the Marine Corps at the end of this week. The Tennessee native is planning to move to Summit County for the winter.
As a part of the Marine Corps’ anti-terrorism security team, Gebhardt was already well aware of the threat of terrorism throughout the world. Though there had been terrorist attacks on the U.S. both overseas and in America, Gebhardt said he believes it was the scale of the Sept. 11 atrocities that made the public more aware of the threat of terrorism.
“It woke us up a lot (especially) since it happened on our soil,” he said.
During his first few years in the Marines, Gebhardt said there was little feel of public support for the military.
“No one paid much attention to us,” he said.
But since then, people have approached Gebhardt and fellow Marines to thank them for their work and show their support for the military and its efforts.
Although Silverthorne resident Jim Miller vividly remembers the attack on Pearl Harbor, Sept. 11 was far more frightening to him “because we could see it on television and it was in our country.”
Donna Gregg of Dillon and Evelyn Cyweski of Breckenridge were on a cruise ship near Alaska when the Twin Towers collapsed. They were not allowed off the boat for two days, until customs agents could check the ship, they said.
As a result, those aboard the ship received little information about the events. Many, including Gregg, mistakenly believed the U.S. was being bombed.
“Not getting all the information was very scary for us,” she said. “And, of course, it was so much closer to home than Pearl Harbor.”
Cyweski remembers sitting around a small radio after the attack on Pearl Harbor, but the immensity of Sept. 11 and the television images made it more traumatic to her.
Although she saw war movies when she was younger, Gregg said they “didn’t seem quite as real as now with television.”
Miller said he also finds the U.S. war on terrorism particularly frightening because, unlike past wars, there is not a defined enemy.
Arnold Osgood of Silverthorne agreed.
“I don’t like thinking about the conflict,” he said. “Mostly, because I don’t know any of the answers – I don’t see any answers. We can’t find these guys and we can’t conquer them because they’re not a country.”
But while most were moved deeply by the tragedy last year, they also seem to agree little has changed in their personal life since then.
“Other than the emotional impact, it really hasn’t changed our lifestyle,” said Gordon Warner of Wildernest. “Everything seems back to normal.”
“I don’t think it’s affected my daily life that much,” Miller said. “I think about it a lot.”
“We’re in such a small community, I don’t think it’s affected us in a big way,” said high school student Jessica Johns. “We’re just more aware of what’s out there in the world.”
Fellow high-schooler Brittany Warner agreed with Johns.
“It hasn’t really affected my everyday life,” she said. “I guess I’m more aware … but it hasn’t changed anything drastically.”
The terrorist attacks have, however, increased Johns’ and Warner’s fears of traveling, they said.
“When you’re traveling, you’re a lot more aware of what could happen,” Johns said.
Several others echoed travel fears and unease about the possibility of another attack.
“The whole country’s running scared because you don’t know where they’ll pop up next,” said Frisco resident Jay Brossman. Though, he feels relatively safe from the threat of terrorism in the High Country, he added.
“I still fly and I still travel,” Gregg said. “But I think about it an awful lot. Are they going to strike again? The unknown is awfully scary.”
“I’m glad to be here,” Cyweski said. “And it’s a worry because I have two grandchildren and the way things are going, who knows what will happen.”
For Summit High junior Dru Taylor, it’s not necessarily the terrorist attacks themselves that have made him fearful.
“(Sept. 11) got me thinking of why (the terrorists) would have done that to America,” he said.
While most people say the attacks made them realize U.S. susceptibility, Taylor said, “for me, it’s Bush’s reactions to it. That’s more of a threat to American security.”
Lu Snyder can be reached at 970-668-3998 x203 or email@example.com
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