Veterans cite pride, patriotism among the lessons from 9-11
SUMMIT COUNTY – Bonnie Moscatelli hung a flag at her Frisco home in honor of those who died Sept. 11, 2001, including a friend whose body was never found in the rubble of the World Trade Center.
But she’s concerned others’ patriotism might have faded since that infamous day.
“I think the American public has fallen back into its general apathy,” she said. “The anger has dissipated, and it was the anger that took us out of our apathy. For myself, in the military, that’s a great concern. Once it (an act of terrorism) happens, you can’t forget. We are praying we come up with some solution to this particular type of terrorism. You have to continue to look for means to keep it from happening again.”
Verald Easterly of Silverthorne is afraid it might, especially in light of President George W. Bush’s quest for international support for an attack on Iraq.
“I’m really fearful right now about getting into a third world war,” Easterly said. “We have, as a country, as a nation, a feeling of duty of revenge if you get attacked by someone. We are at war against the terrorists, whoever they are. I think any other country that attacked like that would have thrown all their military might at the people instantaneously. I’m really confused as to what the future looks like. It could get nasty.”
Ernie Blake of Breckenridge, a Vietnam War veteran, said he didn’t let terrorism get in the way of his everyday life.
“I made reservations a long time ago to fly on Sept. 11,” he said. “I just don’t want to be beholden to terrorists. No one’s going to tell me when I’ll fly. That’d be a victory for those characters. I won’t let them do that.”
Blake, a Breckenridge Town Council member, said he thinks patriotism has faded, but emotions are just under the surface.
“There’s more of a pulling together,” he said. “There’s an added sense of patriotism that I haven’t seen for a long time. It’s faded somewhat, but it’s still there.”
Quinn Becker of Silverthorne worked as an orthopedic physician during the Vietnam War. He said he believes the country is much closer and more focused than it was before the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
“I think it got the people of this country focused a bit on the value of patriotism and what your country really means to you,” he said. “For us folks in the military, it gets brought back into focus every now and then. In the final analysis, it did do something good, even though it was a tragedy of enormous proportions.”
Sept. 11 brought back vivid memories of the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor for many veterans – some of whom were only teens in 1941.
“I keep relating the Sept. 11 experience to Dec. 7,” Easterly said. “I don’t know if people are taking it as serious as that, but it’s almost in that same category. People should be taking serious thought of it, and support our government in whatever fashion it tries to handle this thing.”
Moscatelli, a retired Army captain, agreed.
“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing,” she said, quoting Edmund Burke, an 18th century British statesman and philosopher. “That’s sort of where we are. I support the war on terrorism.”
Becker said he feels people – particularly those who have never served in the armed forces – have changed.
“We saw people who didn’t give a damn about the country care now,” he said. “Even in the kids, it’s made an impression. Deep down, when the time is needed again, when someone does something to the United States, it’ll come up. That’s the value of it. It’s renewed my faith in the United States.”
The loss – real or perceived – of civil liberties has been a topic fiercely debated lately as airports implement extensive screenings and city officials discuss such things as intercepting suspect e-mails or placing cameras in high-profile areas.
“We have personal freedoms, and we don’t like them to be stepped upon,” Easterly said. “On the other hand, we want government to do something to protect society, and people should not get too upset about privacy. Someplace in there, you have to have a balance. Sure, it’s different than 10 or 15 years ago, but there’s a reason.”
“I don’t know that they’ve changed,” Moscatelli said. “I have inconveniences now. But I’m way on the opposite side of people on this. I feel if you aren’t doing anything wrong, if someone checks on something, there should be no problem with it.”
Becker said he planned to watch all the news coverage he could Wednesday. He said he imagines it will bring back a lot of emotions, especially since he used to work in the Pentagon office struck by one of the planes that day.
“I felt lucky in one way and terrible in another,” he said. “It brings back lots of memories. It just almost makes your life stop for a little while. It makes you take stock. It helped me to focus on what’s really important in life, of course – family and your country.
He knows he will never forget.
“After a while, it all wears off, folks get back to day-to-day stuff,” he said. “But deep down in all of us, it’s there when it’s needed. It’ll come out, this love of country, just like it did Dec. 7 – even when they sank the Maine in the Spanish-American war. Americans have a great ability to rally around and focus when the time comes. The enemy doesn’t realize that. They see all our dirty linen washed out in the press. They think we’re in shambles. And how wrong they are.”
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