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September 11 One Year Later

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Sometimes History Is Sadness
The World Trade Center: More Than Just an American Building Complex
Why Do People Go to War?

Part 1: September 11

On this September 11, many people will be sad. One year ago, thousands of people died, in office buildings, in airplanes, on the streets of New York and Washington, D.C. These people were office workers, firefighters, policemen, and other normal people, going about their daily lives. The lives of the families and friends of these people were shattered that day by horrible acts of terrorism.

One year later, the world, and especially the United States, will be very mindful of what happened and what could still happen. Security is expected to extremely tight that day, on airplanes and in office buildings and at public places all around the country and indeed the world. It can't be taken for granted that terrorists won't strike again. It can't be assumed that just because security is extra tight that something won't happen.

And yet, there seems to be a sense of budding optimism in America and elsewhere. As more and more of the terrorist network Al-Qaeda is destroyed or uprooted, as more and more days go by without another terrorist attack, as more and more arrests are made in connection with plots that were foiled before they could be carried out, a sense of optimism grows. Government organizations all over the world are on the watch now for terrorist activity. France, especially, is mindful, having uncovered a plot to blow up the Eiffel Tower. Pakistan, where many of the Al-Qaeda terrorists are thought to have fled once the U.S.-led armed forces drove them from their training camps in Afghanistan, is on the watch as well.

Yes, Americans will be forever mindful of what could happen, on every September 11 and other days as well. It was unthinkable that the twin towers of the World Trade Center could be shattered. They were built, after all, to withstand being hit by an airplane. But they weren't built to withstand being hit by an airplane bomb. It wasn't the impact of the plane crash that felled the Twin Towers; it was the fires, the terrible fires that claimed so many hundreds of firefighters and emergency personnel from New York and all over the country. In doing their jobs, trying to save others, they gave up their lives.

So on this September 11, in 2002, we will be remembering the sacrifices those people made, as well as the lives cut short by the horrible terrorist acts of a year ago.

And yet, in the wake of the increased security on American airplanes and at American facilities and monuments and other places where large numbers of people gather, people overseas, especially at American installations like armed forces bases and embassies, are increasingly mindful of the next terrorist act.

Just last week, a German woman and her fiance were arrested for allegedly planning a chemical explosion at the headquarters of Armed Forces Europe. How was she caught? She told a friend and colleague to stay away from the store where they both worked on September 11. That kind of tip has to be considered a lucky one for law enforcement officials, who are always on the lookout for the kind of tip that is more difficult to find.

In the past year, many planned terrorist attacks have been thwarted, in France, in the Philippines, in Pakistan, and elsewhere. Just last week, a gunman narrowly missed killing the new Afghan president, Hamid Karzai. This wasn't necessarily an attack on Americans or American interests, but the assassination of the Afghan leader most certainly could have sent his country reeling into chaos again, so soon after it had regained a sort of stability.

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