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Remembering Sept. 11

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Posted: Sunday, September 10, 2006 10:00 pm

It's been five years since the world was stunned by the destruction of the World Trade Center, damage to the Pentagon and the aborted attempt to fly a plane into the White House. Some people say they haven't been affected, but others feel it to this day.

"I feel safe because that happened that year (2001)," not in 2006, Lodi resident Amanda Kranich said. "I would go on a plane."

People interviewed in Lodi on Sunday feel safe in their own community, but they expect a larger metropolitan area to be hit again by terrorists.

"I think it's not 'if', but 'when,'" said Lodi resident Kenny Pirtle. "It may be (today), a year from now, 20 years from now."

Bill Dees, of Lodi, said he fully expects terrorists to attack the United States in a similar manner as they did in 2001.

"When that happens, I'm afraid we'll impose martial law," Dees said. "Where's all of our freedoms then? We won't have any."

Many Lodians say that the 9/11 terrorist attacks haven't affected their day-to-day lives. However, that isn't the case in Lodi's Muslim community. Muslims are quite comfortable in Lodi, but not at airports, especially San Francisco International, according to Naheem "Nick" Qayyum, a Lodi Muslim Mosque leader.

"If you're Pakistani or Muslim, they segregate you," Qayyum said. "My brother just arrived (from Pakistan). He was asked by the INS at the airport, 'Why are all you guys bunched up at Lodi?' They asked him real silly questions, and it caused a lot of headaches."

Someone at San Francisco International Airport looked up Qayyum's brother's name on a computer, then asked if he had any money and checked all his belongings, Qayyum said.

"It's very difficult right now," Qayyum said. "There are people sitting at the airport for hours."

Qayyum described his own sour experience after flying to South Korea in the middle of 2002.

"I was under the spotlight in South Korea, and they said it was because of the American government," Qayyum said.

What is Patriot day?

A day to observe Sept. 11 every year with appropriate ceremonies and activities, including remembrance services and candlelight vigils. Flags are to be flown at half-staff, and all Americans are asked to display their own flags and observe a moment of silence at 5:46 a.m. PDT to honor the victims killed on Sept. 11, 2001.
Source: President George W. Bush.

Former Lodi residents Justin and Ana Smith, who now live in Sacramento, say the 9/11 tragedy affected them slightly in the months after the terrorist attacks, but they don't feel affected anymore.

Justin Smith recalls rolling his windows up after 9/11 after hearing that terrorists would throw things into car windows and explosives into trash cans.

Now he doesn't keep his windows rolled up anymore.

His wife recalls the time when she wondered if their neighbors from Saudi Arabia could be terrorists. Ana Smith felt bad about having that attitude toward the two women, and she knew she felt that way simply because of the 9/11 attacks. Since that time, the Smiths became friends with the Saudi Arabian women.

In San Joaquin County, the biggest effect from the 9/11 tragedy is greater bureaucracy and paperwork, not to mention the $7 million in emergency equipment the county has acquired from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, according to Ron Baldwin, director of the San Joaquin County Office of Emergency Services.

The county now has urban search and rescue equipment that can get people out of collapsed buildings, some hazardous materials and communications equipment and some equipment to detect substances that can cause biological damage, Baldwin said.

Local residents are resigned to the fact that the United States will face another terrorist attack as severe as the 2001 attacks.

"I don't think we're safe," Justin Smith said. "I'm upset. I don't think our current administration is on track to resolve the issues. We are not being told honestly what the agenda is of the current administration."

On the other hand, Pirtle said he completely supports President Bush in attempting to keep America safe. Yet he predicts that the country will experience a 9/11-type sequel.

"It will be a very strategic and public act," Pirtle said. "They could be targeting our oil resources, natural resources. It could be strategic or infrastructure oriented. I think they will get it done in multiple ways."

Dees blames American arrogance in its foreign policy.

"I can't understand why the United States wants to own every country in the world," Dees said. "We've got bases in every country.

"Why, when we get hit back, go over and fight what they were fighting about for 2,000 years."

Lodi resident Kendall Goodwin added, "I think we have to realize we have to give up a little security - but how secure are we?"

Kranich said she doesn't expect another terrorist attack on American soil, but she points to the bible, which convinces her that the United States will fight in yet another war.

Qayyum, the mosque leader, said the Muslims have more at stake when it comes to another terrorism attack.

"In the community, we're just praying that doesn't happen," Qayyum said. "If something like that happens, we might as well just pack up and leave. I hope our (American) government is doing things to make sure nothing like that happens again."

Contact reporter Ross Farrow at rossf@lodinews.com.

First published: Monday, September 11, 2006

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