YOUTHS HAVE THEIR SAY Looking to the future

The Vindicator asked young people to look back over the past year and write about how the attacks affected their lives:
Remembering, without fear
Terrorism has and will always exist in the world. But before Sept. 11, I was unaware of the magnitude of destruction capable by terrorists. Bin Laden successfully attacked American soil, an event that had not occurred since World War II.
But, he did not destroy the American spirit.
Seeing all the flags flying proudly and watching the generosity of Americans grow was an amazing sight. That proved to me that our nation would only become stronger.
We cannot let the terrorists scare us, or they will have succeeded.
I am not afraid to fly or travel because I try not to worry about things I have no control over. I think security is improving as we correct our past oversights.
Extra security was in place on my visit to the Statue of Liberty on July 4. As I proceeded toward Ellis Island and saw a gap in the skyline, my heart sank. Ground zero brought tears to my eyes and sorrow to my heart.
But the fireworks in New York City on July 4 reminded me that America should never forget Sept. 11, and the best way to honor the victims is to continue to live and stand up for our beliefs and our country.
Julie Hoopes, 17
Lakeview High School
Recognizing a stronger America
Since the Sept. 11th attacks, you see more patriotism and love in the U.S. than there was before the attacks.
It brought us together. Made us stronger.
In May, I went on a trip to Philadelphia and Gettysburg, and what I saw made me stand proud of my country's past -- how we lived back then, how many people have done so many good things.
When I went on this trip, the security was tight. We had someone watching our every move. Where I come from, security was never that tight.
It's much better now compared to what it used to be. It makes everyone feel more secure, or I should say, at least myself.
The government has been doing a great job.
The military has done a great job, too. I think it's great that this country can be so generous, giving to others in need.
School life hasn't changed much. The attacks have just made everyone more aware of what could happen and to live everyday like it's your last.
Kathleen Mulligan, 13
Lake Milton
Jackson-Milton Middle School
Finding little change in her world view
Did it change my life? Yes, slightly. Will it hinder me from living the rest of my life? Absolutely not.
I remember sitting in my history class that day, just watching everything, and I couldn't help but to wonder how something like this could have happened.
I think, though, that most of all I just felt desperate. I was desperate to do something to help, but what could a 15-year-old kid do?
In terms of travel, I wasn't really affected. When my family flew in from LA, they had to be at the airport three hours early. But other than that, nothing really changed.
I wasn't too thrilled about President Bush being elected into office, but I will admit that for a Republican, he handled the situation quite well.
It was close to a whole month before we struck back, but I feel we needed that month to prepare ourselves for what was to come.
I really don't look at the military any differently. I've always looked up to the armed forces with a great deal of respect and admiration. I take pride in what they do in order to protect our country. Will I ever join the military? No. I have other things that I need to do, just as I have my own way of making an impact on the world.
I haven't really looked at anyone at school any differently than what I usually do. The Columbine situation kind of took care of that for me.
Besides, I'm intrigued by other religions and cultures, not horrified by them. I feel that the rash of hate crimes within this past year against people of the Islamic faith and any Middle Easterner is nothing but an embarrassment to our country. By treating Muslims in such a bad manner, we are giving these so-called & quot;terrorists & quot; a reason to lash out on us. People need to learn that two wrongs don't make a right.
Our world isn't perfect -- it never will be -- but I'm not going to let something such as Sept. 11 stand in my way of living my life.
Tiffany Johnson, 16
Transfer, Pa.
Reynolds High School
Learning to cope with lost innocence
Sept. 11 will always have a special place in my heart. I grew to appreciate what I have, try not to take anything for granted, and I thirst for more.
Unfortunately, my despair was being replaced by hatred. I wanted desperately to see action being taken. For Osama bin Laden's and Al-Qaida's punishment to be death, by the most cruel methods allowable.
But then I realized my hatred was worse than theirs. I would be no better than bin Laden himself if I let that hatred consume me, overshadowing the hope and faith that allowed me to continue.
As for the military, their actions have been consistent and patriotic. But I'm wondering: Is it worth the loss of more innocent life? It appears more soldiers die preparing for battle, rather than in it. More innocent life has been taken accidentally by American forces and terrorists.
The government's way to prevent attacks is working, but what I find is, we've found more enemies inside this country than the outside. Scandals such as Enron, drunken pilots and youth kidnappings have rocked the core of America.
My relationships with other friends of different backgrounds have not changed. I still hold all my friends in the same light and respect. To be arrogant or ignorant makes me no better than Adolph Hitler. To blame a small group of people who happen to have the same nationality and skin tone for the un-American actions of Sept. 11 is ridiculous.
To allow Sept. 11 to affect travel is like allowing bin Laden and his followers to win. You can't forever live in a plastic bubble on account of Sept. 11.
Being American is what defines me, sets me free, separates me from anything else and allows me to strive and become anything I want to be. What makes us great people is being everything that comes along with being American.
Andrea N. Burton, 16
Chaney High School
Balancing concern and confidence
Like the rest of the world, I was shocked to see on TV what happened to our country. My parents were glued to the TV for weeks, it seemed like.
I wish I could have done something for all the families that lost loved ones. My mom always says that we will never fly in a plane. My grandma and grandpa flew up to Ohio this summer from Florida and all my mom did was worry until they called her. My grandma says my mom worries too much.
I think the president and our military are doing a great job protecting us. I hope that the president is doing everything in his power to stop another attack from happening.
Cassandra M. Aurelio, 12
Struthers Middle School

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