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Denver Reaction

September 19, 2001 at 12:00 AM EDT
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BETTY ANN BOWSER: September 11, 2001. Is that day going to be, for any of you, like the day that John Kennedy was shot– that you will always remember where you were, what you were doing?

BRENT NEISER: When I saw the second plane hit, live on morning TV here at Denver time, and to realize this is… Then you knew it was terrorism, the second plane– at least I felt I did. This is New York Harbor. I had a grandfather that sailed through there on his way to and from World War I. My father did that in the European theater in World War II. That was safe… A safe harbor, safe haven for them. And to me it just… You know, now reflecting from that incident, we have now this generational challenge to make that harbor safe for all Americans, and making it the beacon for democracy that it was.

BETTY ANN BOWSER: Chris, how do you feel right now?

CHRIS GOODWIN: It’s been a real hard week. I’ve sort of a numb feeling in a lot of ways. I think if anything comes out of this whole thing, it has to be that we do things to make sure this kind of thing doesn’t happen again. And I think that has to involve a lot of different things, not just pursuing and apprehending the people who did it and make sure there’s some kind of justice applied. I think it’s going to involve a lot of questions about the policies of our country, and maybe things… Asking questions about what we’ve done to generate such hatred in the minds of some people. I think it’s real easy to write this off as insanity and not think about those things, but I think that would be a big mistake.

BETTY ANN BOWSER: Has this brought out this sense of patriotism that’s been described by all the polling around the country?

LINDA HOUSTON: I really do believe that the patriotism is our form of unity; that when we… When we’ve had other attacks or we’ve had differences in the communities and in the United States and in politics, that’s sort of when we banter. But when somebody hits us from the outside, that’s when we unify.

GREG SCOTT: If we don’t take this personally and we don’t treat this as an attack on America and make it a patriotic issue, we risk just kind of sloughing it aside and moving forward and having this happen some time in the next 12, 18 months all over again.

BETTY ANN BOWSER: Jason, you’re one of the youngest people in this group. What sort of a response do you think is required for this?

JASON MUNDY: I think the situation demands a military response, and I think we will carry through with that response. I do hope that cool heads prevail, and… And I think they have in the fact that the international community is responding so well to our call to have help, because we don’t… We certainly don’t want this to turn into a war of America against Islamic nations.

DEE CISNEROS: I think that the nation should stand behind our leader, our President, and we have to show this unity to the rest of the world. I mean, I’m ambivalent about military. I don’t know how far they want to go. I don’t know how far you want to go. I just can’t see killing a lot of innocent people.

BETTY ANN BOWSER: Moe, let’s hear from you. We haven’t heard from you. What are you willing to give up? The President’s been talking about sacrifice.

MORRIS CLARK: Well, I guess everyone will have to be personally inconvenienced, and to what degree that may be… For example, on a flight last night, I had my luggage hand searched, and I was very happy to have that. The real sacrifice is that people are more afraid.

BETTY ANN BOWSER: Are you?

MORRIS CLARK: No, I am not. But I had… The flight attendant asked me to move toward the front of the plane, if I wanted to sit up toward the front of the plane, and I did. And then a few minutes later, I said, “why did you offer me that?” She said, “You’re a pretty big guy.” And I looked at her and I said, “Are you afraid?” She said, “Yes, this is my last flight.” And I thought that was very revealing. I think there is a certain amount of fear that people have.

BETTY ANN BOWSER: How do you expect your life to be different now, Susana?

SUSANA CORDOVA: One of the things that I think I find most frightening about what the future holds is I believe that the American people are willing to commit to doing whatever it takes. But “whatever it takes” has been… has not been defined, and what I think that most likely will play out to be is going to be very long, very arduous, filled with lots of sacrifices, both economic sacrifices, the loss of human life, you know, both American and foreign. And so in that way, I mean, I can see that could be something that will not be resolved very quickly.

LINDA STAHNKE: I think we’ll be fighting here and fighting there and fighting somewhere else. And I think we have to be ready for our own sons… I have sons the right age to be going into these conflicts. I have friends who are in the military who are waiting now to be called — friends in the reserves who are waiting to be called. And I think with all of our talk about resolve right now, it’s going to be tested in a few weeks. This generation, this time hasn’t faced conflict with very much human involvement. We were spoiled with the Gulf War by seeing so much technology employed and so few people lost. And I think we’re in… By the President saying we’re in for something new, I think he’s trying to prepare us so that we are ready to actually lose human beings and actually lay down lives.

BETTY ANN BOWSER: And your son?

LINDA HOUSTON: He just graduated from the Air Force Academy, and went… Is going on to pilot training. And it was such… There was such anxiety for me, and I had to be careful because he was so enthusiastic. He was so ready to go and so ready to be a part of what he knew was the right thing to do, and I’m so proud of him. But as a mother, there’s a lot of anxiety. But I also look at all those people’s lives that were lost. I mean, how can you weigh one life, even though it’s your child, against someone who’s lost their child?

BETTY ANN BOWSER: Mark, how do you feel about all of this?

MARK AJLUNI: I’m just very skeptical about giving Mr. Bush full mandate to conduct any full-scale war on his terms without there being some sort of national debate. And I haven’t heard a national debate, and I haven’t heard Mr. Bush define what exactly it is that he wants to do, or what the endgame of this whole thing is. I’ve heard a lot of intense rhetoric. I’ve heard the Assistant Secretary of State say we want to end states that are involved in terror. And it feels like this… this witch-hunt that could be developing, endangering American lives and certainly civilian lives abroad. I’m all for bringing these people to justice and I’m all for cracking terror rings in all forms. Don’t get me wrong at all. But I feel like this country really needs to debate this issue publicly as a democracy and find out what is the best course of action in making the world a safer place.

DENNIS COUGHLIN: I think that we have to trust the leaders that we have, both political and military, and empower them to do the job. I certainly don’t know where the terrorists are. I don’t know all the hideouts and the cells and the… and the various groups. I don’t have the access to the CIA or the intelligence information. That’s why we have a representative government. And I think that that… I have complete confidence that they will do everything in their power to conduct this in the way the American public wants.

CHRIS GOODWIN: I think every issue in a democracy has to be debated, particularly when we’re talking about war and peace.

ERIC DURAN: This is a war that’s never going to end. I think that, you know, Osama bin Laden may be captured and brought to justice, or even killed in some military bunker, but I think, you know, this is just the beginning of a new chapter where we see – you know — increasing terrorist attacks on the United States and on our way of life. This is just the beginning, and I only see it happening more in the future.

BETTY ANN BOWSER: Well, we’re going to have to leave it there. Thank you all for being with us tonight.