Between the Lines

Between the Lines by David Lias As a child, when, for whatever reason, I would fall into a blue funk about something, my mother had this knack of helping me snap out of it.

All she did, simply, was to remind me that wallowing in self-pity was a senseless, non-productive exercise.

Just that little reminder was all it took for me to realize that, yes, whatever was bothering me, in the scheme of things, eventually didn't matter all that much.

What was important, she emphasized, was that at such times it was important to keep one's chin up, to strive to change one's attitude, and, in general, to not infect everyone around you with your so-called misery.

By the time this issue of the Plain Talk is printed, nearly three weeks will have passed since the Sept. 11 terrorism attacks in New York and Washington.

There's no doubt the attack was one of the most tragic events in our nation's history.

It's time, however, for the United States to come to terms with it.

We have turned into a society that seems to seek out angst whenever possible, and revel in it.

We seemed almost too willing to hang our heads, after staring at the televised footage of the WTC attacks. Judging by a radio show I listen to periodically when working at night, this nation appeared to respond to the terrorism by holding a giant sob-a-thon.

I'm not talking about a healthy amount of empathy for the families who lost loved ones, for the injured, for the firemen and police and others who have been working 24/7 ever since Sept. 11.

There's nothing wrong to mourn for our loss of innocence on that day. But some of the wailing I've heard on the radio even two weeks after the fact has become, well, a bit absurd.

It is time, as my mother would so succinctly state, to snap out of it.

Life goes on after all. We have a war to fight. We have an economy that seems to be spiraling downward, and we need to concentrate on trying to get our lives back to normal.

That won't happen if we don't stop rending our garments and gnashing our teeth.

It would do well for American people to turn to history in a search for the proper response to a devastating attack.

During World War II, Hitler didn't simply plow two large planes into a British building and kill a few thousand people.

Hitler rained bombs on Great Britain for nearly 70 nights in a row. Think about that a moment � a sustained attack that didn't last a few hours, but rather lasted more than two months.

It is one instance in history I can think of that in a small degree parallels our nation's experience this month.

Night after night the British people had to deal with the fact that hundreds of homes were being lost, thousands of lives were being lost, and they never let their spirit be broken by Hitler.

I watched a program on the History Channel one evening showing how the English would pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and go to work every morning through the rubble.

Sure, they suffered. Many times they were forced to sleep in air raid shelters rather than their homes. Many of them had to pause in their routines to bury their dead.

But they didn't let a madman totally disrupt their lives.

It was, indeed, as Churchill said, his nation's finest hour.

It's natural to feel a bit confused, and a bit afraid after watching something as horrific as the WTC attack.

I'm still suffering from a mild bit of angst about our nation becoming involved in a yet another war. Maybe it's simply an indicator that it's time to give Mom a call.

But some of my worries have been set aside after listening to Col. George Day and Bob Kerrey speak at the Korean War conference at USD earlier this week.

It was pointed out at the conference that German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, of all people, noted during World War II that American GIs weren't the best soldiers when they landed on European soil.

They were, however, very, very quick learners, he said, and soon adapted to battle on foreign ground.

We need to learn from history. We need to rekindle that spirit that helped Great Britain survive. We need to trust that our military can learn to fight in a strange, unfamiliar land.

We need to experience our finest hour.

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