By Tim Leeds
It's been about two weeks since terrorists attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and people have had a chance to digest the impact of those events on their lives. Many people are willing, even eager, to share their feelings and opinions.
"It's so huge and so devastating, it's so unbelievable it happened in America," said Hill County Commissioner Kathy Bessette. "It's very, very frightening. And how vulnerable we can be. We let our guard down, I guess."
The Havre Daily News interviewed people about town, some well-known and others with a lower community profile. Here is some of what they had to say.
For many, the news of the attacks was one of the first things they saw that day. The first hijacked plane crashed into the World Trade Center shortly after 8 a.m. EST, 6 a.m. MST. Lisa Hanson of Havre said she saw reports on the attacks on TV right after she woke up and immediately woke her husband, Robert, to watch the coverage.
"It didn't surprise me, it shocked me," she said. "I think somebody missed something somewhere."
The war on terrorism President Bush declared is the right way to try to stop more attacks, Hanson said, but the United States has to be careful. She said the country should find out who is responsible and carefully target any attacks. "We shouldn't go over and bomb innocent people."
Rebecca Henry of Havre said her uncle works near the World Trade Center, so the attacks hit close to home. Her family didn't know if her uncle was all right until late on Sept. 11.
"It's difficult when you're back here and don't think it could happen, then it happens and you think, It's family,'" she said.
Henry said she supports the war on terrorism, but it also frightens her. "If we don't fight back, it's not going to stop," she said. But it's "scary. I think that if we're not careful it could lead into another major war. I hope not, because I don't want to see friends and family go to war."
Havre Mayor Phyllis Leonard said that when she heard about the attacks, her reaction was one "of horror; how could this happen in the United States of America. We've always felt so safe here."
The response of people in the Havre area and the rest of the country to help and donate money to relief funds is gratifying, she said. All people of the United States should support the victims, people whose family members were killed, children whose parents were killed, she said.
"I think we should especially commend the crew that sacrificed their lives to keep their airplane from being a bomb (in Pennsylvania)," she added.
The United States has to do something, Melissa Doney of Havre said, but she doesn't support a war.
"I don't think they should fight violence with violence," she said. "Right now that's the last thing we need is more violence. It's just going to cause more loss of lives for Americans."
She said the country does need to increase and update security to protect the nation, and the people need to remain united.
"As a nation we should all stand together and help put our lives back together," she said.
Carl Comb of Havre said the attack, and the careful planning it took, showed the terrorists had been studying and preparing for the attack for a long time.
"It was real surprising," he said. "For one thing, I didn't think anything like that could happen."
Bessette said watching the tragedy unfold, on Sept. 11 and over the last two weeks, has been incredibly emotional.
"It was unbelievable, that was my first thought," she said. "Then devastation because of the numbers. Then as it progressed, all of the planning the attack would have taken. Watching the rescue the following days and all the tragedies that unfolded, it was very sad."
The reaction of the American people has been gratifying, and Bessette hopes it continues, especially with the war on terrorism under way.
"People are going to have to stand united through the long thing," she said. "I hope it doesn't die out. I hope people keep waving the flag."
Bessette said tightening security is the right move, even if passengers have to wait three hours at an airport.
She said the war on terrorism seems to be moving carefully and correctly.
"I think we have to proceed with caution, make sure everything we assume is correct, make sure we're looking at the right target, which I think we are," she said. "Enlisting the help of other nations, which we are."