Editor's note: The Journal-World received several letters from Lawrence teen-agers expressing their views on the recent terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and how Americans and their leaders should respond to those acts.
Nearly all of the writers said they had not seen the views of their generation expressed in the paper and that they wanted people to know their thoughts.
Here are excerpts from some of those letters.
The events have made me realize how much we take for granted. We never know what could happen tomorrow or what we could lose next week. My hardest decision this week could be what to wear for a dance while victims' decisions could range from where to bury their loved ones or, in President Bush's case, who to protect or what to bomb. Scary thought, eh?
It is inhumane
I feel the world has gone berserk. This is the craziest situation I will have lived through, along with many others. I don't see how this all started. Why did people just start hating each other? It is inhumane to think we are killing out our own species. We don't even have a real reason to be murdering each other.
I am very aware that there are different religions, races, appearances and lifestyles, but can that not be accepted? I believe the problems need to be resolved in a grown-up manner, instead of deciding to kill innocent people. May we keep the losses in our prayers.
Violence is no solution
My feelings about this event are all mixed emotions. I'm happy nothing happened to my family or me, but I'm sad that so many have died and their families are suffering. I'm kind of scared that something else might happen, like another attack or a war. If we bomb the country harboring the "mastermind" behind this, then that's exactly what we'll do, start a war.
We don't solve anything by violence. That's the message that adults have been trying to give to us teens, but now they are going against that and showing us that violence will put an end to terrorism on the United States. My teacher put this a different way. She asked us "If you kill the killers, will the killing stop?"
The Army recruits millions of friends and family members to fight this war and are risking more of our people's lives. To me, this doesn't make sense. I think we should punish the people who were in the wrong the actual terrorists. What if a country they are in had no idea that they were planning an attack and we bomb them, killing innocent people? Then we are stooping to their level. My thought is to sentence the terrorists to life in prison or the death penalty.
Proud of Americans
I walked into my third-hour civics class to see the TV on. There I saw the horrific scenes of what was really happening. People in a state of shock; panic and worry on reporters' and civilians' faces. I was stunned.
As I watched all hour, the news just got worse and worse. Hundreds of innocent people had just lost their lives. Some people were so desperate to live, they jumped from the windows. I saw someone jump and I can't erase that picture from my mind. Body parts all over the streets it looked like a mass graveyard. These innocent people can no longer enjoy life's simple pleasures because of other people's hatred. How horrible it must be for their families.
The only joy that is coming out of this is the people. People are banding together to do whatever it takes to help the victims and families in New York. That is the kind of heroism that everyone needs. I am so proud of what many Americans are doing to help one another. Our country has been hit, but we will be strong again someday.
It seems that in the last few days, my mind and emotions have been somewhat overloaded. On Tuesday my primary emotion was disbelief; on Wednesday, shock, and lately simply sorrow.
I like being in control of things. I like having at least some part in everything that happens. On Tuesday, I was utterly humbled by the fact that I could do nothing. A situation had arisen that I could not stop or prevent. I could do nothing, and that fact was overwhelming.
On the other hand, I realized what kind of power I held. One man, who lives half a world away, disrupted our entire country into utter chaos. As Newton stated, "Every action has an equal and opposite reaction." The terrorism was one action, so it would be possible for me to create a reaction. If the terrorists could disrupt the most powerful country and bring it to its knees, so can I.
However, the terrorists' actions were evil, so my opposite actions must be good. I believe that someday, somehow, it might be possible for me to influence millions of people, but in good, not evil.
Plenty of teen patriots
On Tuesday night I chose to watch the news instead of doing my homework or calling my friends. I feel that Tuesday's attack was a tragic and horrible thing. But I know that we will not go quietly into the night. America is a strong nation and we will prevail! The past events may have broken our hearts and weakened our spirits, but I guarantee that we will rise up and fight back.
The terrorists have made a huge mistake. They were trying to weaken us when they only made us stronger. It may be hard to believe that a 15-year-old can be patriotic, but I am. Nor am I the only patriotic teen-ager there are many of them, not only in America but all across the globe. I am speaking for all teen-agers when I say what has happened has been tragic and unbelievable. If there was anything we could do, we would.
Dylan Thomas Medlock
Fight for freedom
I feel like this is a warning to the United States. The United States is the strongest government, both economically and militarily, and if an attack of this size can be unleashed upon that government then what is stopping other terrorist groups from attacking other countries?
The people of this country will not allow small groups of people to terrorize them to the point that everybody is paranoid. This country will show the world that they will fight to the death for freedom. The emotions that each American is feeling right now will be shown by the public until the people that have committed this crime are brought to justice.
I feel very sad and mad about what happened to the Pentagon and the World Trade Center. Right now I feel like we should drop a nuclear warhead right on Osama bin Laden for what he did. When I think about it, I get really mad for the fact that he killed innocent people whose only crime was being at the wrong place at the wrong time. I also feel that when we do find Osama bin Laden and capture him that we should skip the trial and go ahead and execute him for killing thousands of people.
Tuesday's terrorist attack on America has really opened my eyes toward seeing events of the world in a bigger perspective. One week after the violence it is still hard for me to cope with the reality of this situation. Thousands of people are dead because of the incomprehensible acts of a few extremists. These terrorists weren't just after the lives of those killed, though; they were after everything those people and the country they lived in stands for.
It is tremendously difficult for myself or perhaps anybody to comprehend the hatred or insanity that must be involved for anyone to ever think up, let alone carry out, such a diabolical scheme.
I can only hope and pray that something so terrible will not take place again. But thinking this is like trying to avoid the inevitable. There will always be people in the world that are so uncivilized and unlawful toward others that crimes such as this one arise.