As we look back at the Sept. 11, 2001 tragedy, we need to see how far we've come and how far we have to go

Editor's note: On Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001, a series of four coordinated suicide attacks by al-Qaeda was conducted in the United States.

On that morning, 19 al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked four passenger jets. Two of the planes were intentionally crashed into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. A third plane was crashed into the Pentagon. Hijackers had redirected the fourth plane toward Washington, D.C., but crashed it in a field near Shanksville, Pa., after passengers tried to take control of the plane.

Altogether, 2,996 people - including the 19 hijackers - died that day. Among the 2,753 victims who died in the World Trade Center were 343 firefighters and 60 police officers.

In 2004, al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden finally claimed responsibility for the attacks. The U.S. responded to the attacks by launching the War on Terror, seeking out bin Laden and invading Afghanistan to depose the Taliban, who had harbored al-Qaeda members. In May of this year, bin Laden was found by a Navy Seals team in Pakistan and killed.

The following is the editorial that ran 10 years ago in the Review:

America is under attack.


And while the tragedies unfolding this week in New York, Washington D.C., and Pittsburgh, Pa., seem far, far away, they are in reality, very close. And very scary.

How close to home did the terrorist strikes come? Just in the Lake Oswego Review newsroom, we had staffers with relatives who were evacuated from closed federal offices in the nation's capital, others whose spouses' business associates were virtually trapped in office buildings in New York.

The death toll is not known, may never be known, but undoubtedly will reach into the thousands.

So far away, yet so very close.

In one fell swoop, the nation's airlines were grounded. Portland International Airport became a hubbub of on-ground chaos. Washington Square's stores for the most part did not open. Federal offices and the federal courthouse in Portland were closed. All precautionary, all very real.

In Lake Oswego, the school district kept classes operating but did halt a couple of back-to-school nights. High school sporting events were canceled Tuesday night.

At noon Tuesday, Christ Episcopal Church held a community vigil on the tragedy. A similar event in West Linn was put on by a combination of Jewish and Presbyterian interests. There can be comfort in numbers at times like this. A sense of community, of humanity, if you will.

Perhaps it was the same feeling that many people experienced while driving Tuesday after the attacks. Drivers were going slower, less aggressively. They were perhaps a bit more respectful.

Lake Oswego, like communities all across the nation, is taking its share of precautions. A city council meeting was canceled. Police were on the alert.

And what can Lake Oswegans do in all this?

Surprisingly, plenty.

For starters, there can be enormous power in prayer. Use it. The nation and its victims need it.

Donate blood. Already in short supply across the country, the blood needs now are tremendous. The initial rush Tuesday to give blood was overwhelming but more will be needed.

Stay calm and attentive. The nation is walking a very emotional tightrope. Those in the West can help by trying to keep a lid on some of the emotions. Pay attention to what's going on. Look for clues.

Talk to each other. There is great comfort in times of tragedy when people get together and share feelings.

Help prevent communication gridlock. Telephones are in a bad state of repair right now, especially in the New York area. Most remaining phone lines are taxed. Try to limit or curtail calls into that area of the nation.

Ante up. Disaster-relief efforts from this week will be enormous, probably bigger than anything this nation has ever seen. Agencies like the Red Cross will spread themselves as thin as money will allow.

There's no good that can come from a nightmare like this tragedy. The United States looms for some as a beacon of hope and truth. Unfortunately, for others it is a symbol of economic power. And that means it is viewed as a target for evil to try to attack.

As we watch the events of this horror continue to unfold, we owe it to those who died or were injured to keep the memories of this week forever burning. The American resolve is strong; so, too, must be its response.

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