Residents reflect on Sept. 11 anniversary

Tuesday, March 12, 2002

In Southeast Missouri, no crowds gathered to mark the day. There were no public moments of prayerful silence. No elaborate sculptures were dedicated. No lights towered into the night sky.

But on Monday, far from the site of the appalling events of Sept. 11, people in this area paid their respects as best they knew how -- by offering their own private prayers and quietly remembering those who lost their lives.

"I just prayed a little prayer for the people there," said Rosemary Masterson, 71, of Cape Girardeau. "I done the best I could. That's all we could do. But it just didn't happen to them, it happened to us, too, and it was awful."

Elner Miller, 91, of Cape Girardeau said she thinks about that day all the time, but on Monday -- the six-month anniversary -- it was inescapable.

"It was on TV and in the paper and everyone was talking about it," Miller said. "But to think about how many lives were lost, how can you not think about it? We're all going to be thinking about this for a long, long time."

For others, the sixth-month anniversary sent them back to the day that it actually happened, a morning that forever changed them.

"I was getting ready for work and that's when it hit," said Mira McManus, 21, of Cape Girardeau. "Everything was all right and then it wasn't. Everyone at work was talking about it."

Jackson resident Julie Humphreys was reminded Monday by a little boy on the news talking about losing his dad in the attack on the World Trade Center, which destroyed the buildings and stole 2,830 lives.

"That made me think about all the lives that were lost and how their families were affected," said Humphreys, 28. "For us, it may seem so far removed, but for that little boy -- seeing him made it real."

Six months after the attacks, America is a country at war, seeking to find and punish those responsible. As soldiers fight in Afghanistan, talk continues about continuing the war on other countries that sponsor terrorists activities.

'We need to do more'

Polls show nine out of 10 Americans support the military action, and that fact was mirrored in this area.

"I think we need to do more," said Jerry Followell, 48, of Cape Girardeau. "Not so much with Saddam Hussein, but definitely in Afghanistan. We need to make sure that place is not the kind of place that will be safe for terrorists."

Jon Hamilton, 21, of Cape Girardeau said those responsible need to be caught.

"How are we going to feel safe if they aren't?" he said. "People where we are probably feel safe, but as a country, we need to feel like we're protected."

Margie Kramer, 45, of Perryville agreed that it is a safety issue.

"We have to protect ourselves," she said. "Making us safe is the No. 1 priority."

But she wasn't convinced that the war needed to be expanded once Osama bin Laden and his network are captured.

"I support it, don't get me wrong," she said. "But I don't know that I support expanding it. I've got nephews and sons that are of draft age. We can't just start going after everyone."

Yolanda Wilkins, 30, of Cape Girardeau echoed those concerns.

"Two wrongs don't make a right," she said. "Whatever we do, we can't bring those people back. They should be caught and punished, but killing them and the constant bombing isn't going to change anything."

Dave Heath, 54, of Chaffee said the war is sending a strong message to those responsible and those thinking about trying something like it.

"If they get away with it once and see that nothing happens, they're going to do it again," he said. "Make no mistake about that. This tells them they might be getting more than they bargained for if they try something."

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