Americans are slowly returning to familiar routines seven weeks after the terrorist attacks, but they have become discernibly cautious, aware of the fact that the horrible events of Sept. 11 could be repeated at any time.
The terrorist attacks and the nation's subsequent war against terrorism demand that Americans maintain constant vigilance, that they be alert to suspicious and unusual activities, and that they report such activities to law enforcement.
The government on Monday issued a security alert based on what it described as credible information that another terrorist attack could occur within the week. Law enforcement agencies were put on high alert, and citizens were urged to continue to be vigilant. It was the second time a high alert was issued by Attorney General John Ashcroft since Sept. 11. The first was on Oct. 11, which also was based on information the government believed credible.
On the day of the attacks, the government acted properly by closing down all air traffic. National Guardsmen are providing security at airports, including the Cape Girardeau Regional Airport, and security is being strengthened not only at airports but at public buildings and other facilities across the nation.
The airport here and small airports across the country have had to comply with a new federal rule that prohibits parking within 300 feet of a terminal building.
The rule caused so much inconvenience and had such a negative financial impact on the airport here that the city was prepared to order a $13,000 study to assess the effects a bomb would have on the terminal building in hopes the study would lead to an exemption from the rule. It's good that the city learned before a contract was awarded for the study that the airport just last week had been exempted from the rule, and the parking lot is again being used.
No-parking sawhorses tied together with yellow nylon rope still surround the parking spaces along the curbs near the Federal Building at Broadway and Fountain, effectively eliminating the only parking available to those who do business there.
The barricade is so flimsy that it is sometimes blown down in strong winds. It serves little purpose but to eliminate needed parking around the building, because it certainly wouldn't prevent anyone who wanted to do harm to the building from doing it. This building also should have been exempted from unrealistic requirements.
The war against terrorism is new to America, and the nation is just now learning how to protect itself. Over time the country will find that strictest security is most needed at those places terrorists are most likely to hit, and that is where large numbers of people are concentrated.