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6:07 PM Thu, Nov. 15th

Organic Matter: Attack spurs military recruits

Patriotism is alive and well in the United States and anyone having doubts about that should check with their nearest military recruiter.

The terrorist attacks on our country last Tuesday galvanized young men in a manner similar to the groundswell of new enlistments when the Gulf War broke out a decade ago.

Josh Gipe, a 24-year-old man in Atlanta, went to his Army recruiting office Wednesday and signed up.

"As an American, I feel I owe something to my country," Gipe told the Associated Press.

"Our freedom has been put in jeopardy and I want to be someone who helps defend that."

Students at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga that once opposed the draft changed their minds after watching the twin towers of the World Trade Center collapse in New York and one side of the Pentagon destroyed in suicide attacks by terrorists who commandeered four commercial jetliners.

"I'd be happy to go to the draft right now," said Zach Smith, 20.

All Americans cherish freedom.

But it carries a high price tag at times as we learned while watching the horror played out over and over again on television as two of the jets slammed into the upper stories of the World Trade Center.

Suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden's name immediately floated to the top of the list of those thought responsible.

He is the only one with the money and connections to have pulled off the well-coordinated attacks, some people argued.

It's believed terrorists aboard a United flight out of Newark, N.J.

bound for San Francisco could not subdue flight crew members and passengers, leading to fighting and nobody in control as that jet crashed about 80 miles from Pittsburgh.

NBC News was the first to report its intended target was either the White House or Air Force One, a piece of information acknowledged by the Bush administration.

A short time later, the networks all stated the American Airlines jet that hit the Pentagon had earlier flown in the direction of the White House, giving rise to the idea that it was its first target, before changing course for the Pentagon.

Those pieces of information came to light while President Bush was flying from Florida to Louisiana.

It also was the reason he continued on to Nebraska, instead of immediately returning to Washington.

Bush and other administration officials continually used the term "cowardly acts" to describe the attacks.

Striking at civilians certainly is cowardly.

One network analyst stated Osama bin Laden feels American taxpayers support a corrupt government, so bin Laden believes it is acceptable conduct to eliminate those helping finance our government.

However, I am concerned with continued use of the term "cowards" in referring to the terrorists and their actions.

The word may bring some emotional comfort to Americans, but how will it affect terrorists?

Some of them may be familiar with the expression, "Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never harm me." They can thumb their noses at us and laugh, as did some Palestinians, who sang, danced and handed out candy when they learned of the attacks.

But there is another side to consider.

Some terrorists may become incensed at being called cowards and plot further acts of violence against America.

Living in a civilized society with its many legal safeguards for those accused of crimes puts us at a tremendous disadvantage in dealing with those ready to lay down their lives so they can kill others.

The airline industry is slowly getting back on its feet with new security measures in effect at all airports.

While they may make it tougher for would-be hijackers to get anything aboard a jet that could be used as a weapon, I doubt the measures are foolproof.

The Oklahoma City bombing was a wake-up call for Americans, some of whom thought it could never happen again.

But it did and was several hundred times worse.

Those who refer to Sept.

11, 2001 as "The Second Pearl Harbor" have grasped the depth of what struck at the bastions of freedom last Tuesday.