The View from Here

The terrorist attacks of September 11 took place far away. But they hit close to home.

Similar feelings descended on him Tuesday morning as he sat in his van waiting for a client, listening to the initial reports of the carnage at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. "I had the same tension like that. It brought me back to that kind of thing, that feeling. I was like, 'Wow, here we go, something's going on again.' It was weird. I'm that kind of guy anyway. I just sat out there and wondered about what was going on."

Eckhoff worries that one repercussion of the terrorist attacks will be an infringement on civil liberties. He notes that while dropping off a client at the Veterans Administration two days after the hijackings, he wasn't allowed to enter the building. "I just feel like we've already lost. They've already done it," he says. "They did their missions; they were successful. We can't cross the street without three different IDs now today. Yesterday we could. We're protecting ourselves from ourselves."

The only upside Eckhoff sees is the upsurge of patriotism. He often marches in the color guard at parades and is dismayed by the lack of respect accorded the flag. Many people, he notes, don't even bother to stand as the Stars and Stripes pass by. "To me the flag represents the spirit of all the warriors and all the veterans and all the people who have fought to make us free, so we can bitch and protest and we can have opinions. And that's freedom. It's not just a piece of cloth. It represents my friends who died. They didn't die for nothing. They died for us, so we could be free."

--Paul Demko

 

 

"THAT'S YOUR BOY BUSH." AT seven o'clock on primary-election night in Minneapolis, Edward McDonald is nearing the end of his shift as an election judge. "This bomb shit had me kinda spaced out all day, so I don't know. I feel like I been watching a war, not an election."

McDonald is 54, lives in Fridley, and has worked as a youth counselor for the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board for 20 years. Every morning, before he does anything else, he tunes in CNN. "I was watching before anything happened. And then it all happened," he says.

A TV has been plugged into the wall, and everyone in the room is watching as the president prepares to address the nation. The cameras have been turned on too early, though, and Bush stares blankly for nearly 30 seconds.

"You gonna end some lives now?" McDonald sneers. "You already ended mine by stealing the election from us, you cocksucker. Hey, that's your boy Bush!" he says to no one in particular. "Other than that, he's a nice guy."

The president commences his speech, but McDonald isn't listening. "I'm still in disbelief," he says. "Did I think it could happen here? Matter of fact, I did. Because there's so many Middle East countries that don't like the U.S., for whatever their reasons." He gestures at Bush's televised image. "I got my reason."

When a young boy rushes over carrying a Nerf football, McDonald cleans up his language. He hugs the boy, then pulls out pictures of his daughter Yvonne's two children. Their father is former Minnesota Viking Henry Thomas, who is playing his last year of professional football in Houston. Thomas's team flew out of Boston the day before two planes leaving the same airport were hijacked. "I love my kids, I love my grandkids, I love my son-in-law," McDonald says as Bush wraps up. "But now there's gonna be retaliation, and I worry. I used to fly to Houston twice a month. But as of today, I don't. It's all different now."

--G.R. Anderson Jr.

 

 

GORDON REGGUINTI HAS ALWAYS FELT the pull of two homelands: the United States, where he resides, and the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, his people, his heritage. He has spent his life as an activist, trying to temper the social ills that have hurt Native Americans. But he has also worked hard to survive, even thrive, in American society. The conflict between cultures rose up again Tuesday morning. He was on his way to work at the nonprofit Grotto Foundation in downtown St. Paul when he heard that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. Like most people, he didn't know what to make of the news at first. An accident? A careless pilot? "When the second plane hit, I knew it was a terrorist attack," he remembers.

By the time he got to work, the Pentagon was in flames. A tide of emotions swept over him. "My immediate reaction was with the U.S.," he recalls. "We're under attack!" But as the initial roar of anger faded to numbness, his mind retreated into a more philosophical corner. "If people are going to make war on each other, leave the civilians out," he says. "This is the history of this country, too, in terms of the way it attacked native villages. There were many, many instances of Americans attacking native villages: men, women, children."

In the days following the attacks, Regguinti has been struck by the trauma and grief that people are experiencing. The anguish resonates with the 200 years of suffering Native Americans have endured, and it saddens him that such violence and pain still flourish in this world. "It's a chance for everyone to see what violence causes, and perhaps to show compassion for others," he says. "When you cut down to the core of it, no matter what the circumstance, it's just senseless violence. Whether it's done in the name of God or economics or whatever, it's just senseless. As a human being, it saddens me that this is the human condition. That this is how we operate."

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