My Turn: Where have you been the last 6 years?
I have a firm belief that everyone who submits a guest column to the paper has the right to their own opinion and I hold that belief in this case.However, after reading the guest column A family’s disconcerting trip to D.C. (Sierra Sun Nov. 14), I have to ask of the writer, Where have you been for the last six years?For that matter where have you been in the last three decades? We would all love to still stroll the halls of the House and Senate like we used to. But the fact that security personnel are deployed throughout Washington, D.C., armed with machine guns, sniper rifles and bomb-sniffing dogs is not the fault of Mr. Bush and his ilk, nor is it the fault of Barbara Boxer or Congress. Perhaps you were living in a cave without access to the news and are not aware of Sept.11, 2001. If that is the case, then I can’t blame you for feeling the way you do. However, acts of terrorism are not a new threat to Washington, D.C. or anywhere in our country for that matter. Over the last three decades there have been several organized terrorist attacks, as well as numerous assaults by unstable individuals acting alone, that have targeted the White House and U.S. Capitol building and the President or U.S. congressmen within the District of Columbia. It was not, however, until the 1980s that such incidents evoked heightened security around the White House, initiating a process of fortification that culminated with President Clinton’s decision in April 1995 to close the section of Pennsylvania Avenue running in front of the White House. While some have criticized the move as a knee-jerk reaction that symbolizes a bunker mentality at odds with the perceived strengths of American democracy and freedom, others have vigorously defended the action as a reasonable contingency in the face of a potentially serious and realistic threat.It was hard to understand why the writer was so blind to what has been happening in the real world. He and his family must have driven to Washington. Had they flown, he surely would have noticed the long lines, x-ray machines, bag checks, shoe and belt removal and armed guards at the airports. When they arrived in Washington, did Mr. Smith notice the strategically placed concrete planters around the Capitol building, White House and numerous other Washington monuments? While D.C. has done its best to disguise these barriers, they still could be considered an eyesore and a distinct change to the beautiful landscape the used to make Washington unique. But they, along with those armed guards, are there to prevent a truck filled with a ton of explosives from blowing up one of those monuments including its human occupants who could very well be the guest columnist’s family. None of us like it, but our world has changed dramatically. The writer insinuates that the fear that is responsible for this change is imagined. Believe me, the threat and resulting fear is real. So, next time you travel to Washington, D.C., take the time to walk up to one of those jack-booted, black-clothed, flak-jacked, Uzi-toting armed guards and say Thank You.By the way, those armed guards that are there to protect your life don’t carry foreign made Uzis, they carry American made M-16s.Neil Cunningham is a Truckee resident.
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