My Turn: Why terrorize the little kids of New York City?

Posted: Thursday, February 04, 2010

You know, when I was a kid, we used to do the "duck and cover" thing because of the Cuban Missile Crisis. We had to get under our desks, or, later, with "improved protection measures against a nuclear bomb for little children" they had us going out into the hallway, sitting cross legged against the hallway wall, and putting our coats over our necks and bending forward so we could "keep the nuclear bomb from blowing up our necks."

"It was important to protect our necks," we were told. And most of us kids lived in sheer terror of those darned atom bombs. And when that incredibly loud siren went off just outside our classroom window, our hearts would leap into our throats and we'd literally jump in our seats.

I remember looking at each other each and every time with shocked and bewildered looks on our faces, even though we already "knew the drill." And then we'd go into the hallway and practice "duck and cover." A pretty scary thing for a "kindygardner."

And at times after school when we'd be playing on the school playground, or sledding on our big hill there, that damned siren would go off and it always had the same terrorizing effect. A constant reminder that we in the greater Washington, D.C. metropolitan area could have our "necks blown up at any time" by our enemy.

I remember lying awake in bed at night, unable to sleep and envisioning enemy soldiers outside my basement bedroom window coming to "kill my Dad" because he had fought the Japanese in Alaska during World War II. I pictured these enemies in my own private Hell as Japanese soldiers because of my Dad's experience. Yet, I never told my Parents. Yes, the terror was real for this child, and yes, America came very close to a nuclear holocaust back in those days. But thanks to JFK showing some major cojones, it was averted.

And so, our fears lessened, and The Attack never came. But, The Attack did in fact come to New York City. A different kind of an attack maybe, but just the same, a devastating, horrifying, terrorizing, attack on the people of NYC and on America. And even though I was in Alaska when it happened, I was shaken to the bone as I watched the footage that morning at Foodland in Juneau where I went for a good cup of coffee.

I wasn't in NYC that day, so it really wasn't as bad for me as it was for NYC residents. What was it like for those who were there that day who could see it live? What was it like for those who could smell the burning, and watch the jumpers with their own eyes? And what were the little kids in Kindergarten told as they looked at the Twin Towers on TV as planes flew into them and exploded and then later collapsed in a pile of concrete, steel, and mutilated Human Bodies? How did those little kids handle the sight of the Grown Ups crying unabashedly during (and after) this horrific event?

Yes, Mr. President, let's not only move the trial from New York City, but let us not hold this trial in any American city. Hold it quietly, swiftly and legally at Guantanamo Bay. Don't let these terrorists have a second chance to produce their terror once again by their presence in an American city for a long drawn out civilian trial, not when the mechanism of a military tribunal is already in place.

There is coffee on, take a whiff.

• Kevin C. Nye is a Juneau resident.

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