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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Tuesday, September 25, 2001

Island Voices
We took for granted everything

By Irene Cadelina
Honolulu resident

From accounts told by my grandmother of the Japanese invasion of the Philippines during World War II, contrasted with the short-lived and relatively low-casualty Persian Gulf War in 1991 (under Bush Senior's administration), I've always wondered if my generation, and those younger, would ever witness a full-scale world war.

But nothing has proved more destabilizing, even for us here in Hawai'i, than the atrocious Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

The devastating result of these attacks, strategically executed on U.S. soil, are magnified by the fact that they subvert the very principles of democracy that our nation upholds. Perhaps the terrorists infiltrated the foundations of our civilization because we as Americans have come to take our freedoms for granted.

We took for granted that on the morning of Sept. 11 we would wake up and the World Trade Center, the ultimate symbol of international trade, would stand tall and operating. We took for granted that the four planes (that would later be hijacked) would reach their destinations safely. We took for granted that the Pentagon, the pillar of our nation's military security, would be capable of defending itself under such an assault.

Now, commercial airlines and domestic airports face the challenge of implementing stricter and tighter security measures. And the efficacy of U.S. Intelligence is put to question for failing to detect the onslaught of terrorism.

President Bush has vowed to "hunt down and punish" those responsible for these nefarious acts of aggression, but have we identified all perpetrators of terrorism? Osama bin Laden and his zealous followers are the prime suspects behind the attacks, but there was also early speculation regarding Palestinian groups outraged by our continued support of Israel. Islamic fundamentalists in Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya and Egypt also pose a threat.

Let's hope that the reactionary hate crimes being committed against Arab Americans or those who merely look Arab, will stop before they tear apart our society — a result that would only strengthen the terrorist cause.

As recovery efforts continue, those of us here in Hawai'i must never forget the thousands of lives that were lost and must do all that we can to aid our fellow Americans on the Mainland. Together as a nation, and with the help of our allied countries (mostly members of the European Union and NATO), America and, in essence, democracy will triumph once again.