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COLUMN

America Is At War

Dan Tortorice

America is at war. I hardly believe as I sit here writing, but America is truly at war. Our president has called the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon the first shots of the first war of the twenty-first century. Our military is on high alert waiting to begin a sustained campaign against terror groups around the globe. CNN’s lead story reads, “America’s New War.” Yet I can hardly believe it.

I can hardly believe that soon American planes will rain down bombs on foreign countries. I can hardly believe that a poor Afghani man, who can’t afford the fare to leave Kabul, will watch as my country drops bombs on his family and the few possessions he has. I can hardly believe that U.S. ground troops will be called to fight and die on the soil of distant countries. Called to fight against a nameless, faceless enemy. I can hardly believe it, but it is my world.

Less than a week ago we lived in peace. I’m used to peace. I was twelve when the Gulf War ended. I don’t know what it’s like to turn on the news each day to hear how many Americans died fighting that day. I don’t know what it’s like to turn on the news and hope that your country is winning so that your way of life may be preserved. I don’t know what it’s like to live with war and I don’t want to know. I want peace back.

I don’t want to live in fear that my city is going to be attacked. I don’t want to live in fear that my sister’s city, Chicago, is going to be attacked and that I may never see her again. I don’t want to serve in the military. I don’t want to have to risk my life. I don’t want to die.

I walk around, and it’s like being in a bad dream. I half expect that I’m going to wake up and realize it was all made up. I didn’t really see American soil attacked. I didn’t really see the lives of thousands of Americans taken in mere moments. It was just a nightmare. I’ll wake up, and the worst thing I’ll have to worry about is getting into graduate school. But this is not a dream. This is real. America is at war.

Then there are the times that I go about my daily life and I forget about these events. But always the cruel specter of tragedy returns to my life. Like when I was going to the barbecue at my dorm and the music switched to “It’s the End of the World As We Know It.” At that moment I shuddered. Or when I was sitting at my desk working, and the song “Bad Moon on the Rise” came out of my speakers. These lyrics made me shiver:

Hope you got your things together.

Hope you are quite prepared to die.

Looks like we’re in for nasty weather.

One eye is taken for an eye.

Almost prophetic aren’t they?

As a country we grieve, and so we should. Our brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, friends and family have been slaughtered. We are confused and angry. We are like fish out of water, flopping around, not because we feel we will be made better by the action we take, but because our present condition is intolerable and we must seek another.

We are told to move on and so we shall. But, my friends, I do not like where we are going. We are moving to a cold and dark world. A world of daily violence and terror. A world of fighting and death and suffering and sorrow. A world of war.

I guess you want to hear the point; why am I telling you how I feel and what I believe will happen? Well, the point is simple. America is at war. You must understand that America is at war.