As I sit in my dorm room, just four days after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, things are eerily silent. Normally on a Saturday afternoon, my floor resounds with phones ringing, girls shouting, and stereos. Not today. Instead, most of the girls have gone home. The rest are oddly sedate. As for myself, I slept ten hours last night after being awake for the past several days. It gets to a point where you are so exhausted physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually that you just collapse. I would love to be safe at home, but I have to work all weekend.
I have spent most of the morning trying to catch up on the homework I did not complete this week. I cannot concentrate. President Bush says the word "war" over and over. Just this morning, I heard him state, "this is war". What does that mean? War. War happens in movies and history books. It does not happen to my generation. Like so many others, I want a strong military response to the attacks. I understand these things must be discussed and debated; but I want action. Sitting around waiting to see what happens next is frustrating.
Last night, I attended a wedding, which seemed absurd in light of recent events. Yet, it affirmed that life goes on. I returned to watch a movie with my girlfriends in an attempt to take our minds off things. I think we have watched more T.V. this week than we have in the past year. We are all in the same boat. We want to be out there doing something. Some want to roll bandages or be Rosie the Riveter; others practically have to be tied down to keep them from running off to join the military. Restlessness and tension hang in the air. Sitting around and doing nothing is too hard.
Watching the reactions has been interesting. One of the girls at work was crying because her fiancée is a Marine and she is worried he will get called to duty. My parents, a police officer and a nurse, asked the Salvation Army to send them to New York to help. One of my friends has cleaned everything in sight twelve times; another ran to her boyfriend for comfort. None of us want to be alone so we sit around a dorm room together and analyze every new tidbit of information. Seemingly the entire nation turns to prayer and candles. Then there are the people who seem not to care and whose biggest concern continues to be what they are doing next weekend. I know of one particular group of girls who took advantage of the day off from classes. While everyone else was glued to their TV’s, these girls went to buy goldfish. These are the hardest to watch. I want to scream at them "DON’T YOU SEE?" Others simply drink themselves into oblivion or choose to go on criticizing the government in a time when we need to support it wholeheartedly.
Upon further reflection, I realize it is not surprising that many of my fellow students do not care that our country was attacked. We are a selfish and spoiled generation. We have had almost everything we could ever want; and have been asked to do very little in return. We are the people raised on the idea that there is no real right and wrong. We are allowed to think and do as we please. This is part of the reason for the apathy. We do not care for anything but ourselves and how we feel. I do not know exactly who to blame for this. Most people blame it on parents. I do not know if this is true. We do not have bad parents; we simply have parents who feel that the only way they can prove their love is to give us absolute freedom. I pray that my generation will raise its children differently. I hope our daughters wear a little more clothes and our sons have a little more discipline. We must teach them to take pride in their moral system and their nation.
I admit that the sudden display of patriotism is refreshing. I hear "God Bless the U.S.A." at least once an hour on the radio. Everyone is decked out in red, white, and blue. There are American flags everywhere. Too bad it takes an event of this magnitude to make people realize we really are blessed to live in this nation. There are people in other countries that live under attack every day. Though everyone looks weary and still somewhat shocked, a faint glimmer of hope mixed with righteous anger gleams in their eyes. We will not stand for this attack on everything our forefathers fought so hard to give us. In the end, America will prevail.
As I check the CNN website for the fifteenth time today, I think about other war generations. Vietnam did not have this much information, this quickly. I am still not sure whether it is a blessing or a curse. My grandparents certainly did not sit around watching World War II unfold in the comfort of their living room. My grandfather was fighting and my grandmother was here on the home front working. My generation has seen these events live. It is so real that it seems like a dream from which we will wake up any second.
We will not wake up though. We will go on and fight this good fight until we have rid the world of terrorism. Bush put it best when he said, "they shattered steel, but cannot shatter the steel of American resolve". What tomorrow holds, I do not know. Only time will tell if my friends and I wind up becoming Rosie the Riveter, enlisting, or simply staying here at Ashland University living our lives. As for myself, my head is a little clearer now and it is time to apply my steel-like American resolve to doing everything I could not this week.
Cassandra Kish is a Junior from Vermilion, Ohio, majoring in Political Science.