[REPORTER'S DIARY]Back on Their Feet, Ready to Fight

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[REPORTER'S DIARY]Back on Their Feet, Ready to Fight

On Sunday morning, President George W. Bush held a ceremony at Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland. There, the American flag was hoisted to full staff for the first time since the terrorist attacks in the United States on Sept. 11.

On the afternoon on the same day, an interfaith prayer service for America was held at Yankee Stadium in New York. After the two events, the United States returned to normal life, completing the official mourning period for the dead in the recent terrorist disaster.

Yet, Americans are not back to their cozy lives of the past. Americans now feel that the fear of terrorism, which was once thought to belong only to the Middle East, is now right in their midst.

A survey conducted by the CNN television news network showed that 56 percent of Americans polled did not want to fly unless it was unavoidable. In a poll commissioned by the NBC network, 60 percent of Americans said they feared a recurrence of terrorist attacks.

For Americans, "Pax Americana" is no longer valid. Other countries can be at peace, but not the United States. Americans, as they used to do in the Vietnam War, soon will have to listen to news about the number of casualties at the Afghan War every day.

Coming out of the tunnel of the past 10 days, Americans entered a new and rough world. History may record that period as America's philosophical turning point.

Yet, those 10 days were not just an endless tunnel. The United States sees the light again.

First, there was enormous courage, as great as the tragedy. Hundreds of firefighters and policemen jumped into the burning buildings. Survivors burst into tears saying, "We miss them." That is the power of the uniforms holding up America.

Without the brave passengers that fought against the terrorists in the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania, the U.S. Capitol could have been reduced to ashes.

At a recent speech in Congress, U.S. President Bush invited the widow of a hero. As she stood up, all congressmen rose to applaud her. That is the power of solidarity reviving the United States - the power of citizens holding up America.

For the past 10 days, waves of monetary contributions, blood donations, consolation advertisements, the Star-Spangled Banners and voluntary works swept the entire nation; everywhere in the United States, people sang "God Bless America" together.

Of course, conflict and criticism grew. American intelligence, which failed to prevent the terrorist attacks, came under fire. There have also been revenge incidents based on hate toward Arabs.

A serious debate accuses the United States of sowing the seeds of terrorist attacks. Some are against the war, arguing that innocent Afghans will be the new victims.

Still, such opinions are all deferred for future discussion. The United States, which wept bitterly over the loss of its people in the worst- ever terrorist attack in human history, is now standing up, clenching its fists, ready to fire back.

The write is a Washington correspondent of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Kim Jin

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