Declaration of war |

Declaration of war

Robert Stern

The tragedy has been compared with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963 and the surprise Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.

Local Veterans of Foreign Wars reacted with disbelief and outrage as several gathered around the television at the American Legion Post 795 Tuesday morning.

“It’s unreal. I can’t believe it happened,” said Buzz Azevedo, who served in the Army during the Korean War. “I’ve never seen something this well coordinated follow through.”

While the execution of the plan may have triggered a sense of disbelief, Azevedo said certain government agencies are not doing their job.

“I think the CIA and FBI haven’t been doing their job,” he said. “I think they’re watching the wrong people.”

Paul Lyman, commander of the post, and an Air Force Korean War veteran was dismayed with the elusiveness of the attackers’ identity.

“This is worse than Pearl Harbor. At least we knew who they were,” he said. “Any nation who supports these terrorist, we should go after them.”

Chuck Upton, who served in the military in Grenada, said he will pick up ammunition on his way home.

“This is going to make the Oklahoma bombing look like a schoolyard fight,” Upton said.

The Strange Brew Coffee Lounge, a place normally buzzing with conversation, was quiet as onlookers watched the 43-inch television set fixed to CNN. Customers watched Palestinians cheering in the streets about the attack.

“It’s sad to see the footage of Palestinians celebrating,” said Paul Millard, who was watching the news at Strange Brew. “They’re saying ‘Hey, have a taste of what I’ve grown up with.'” Millard said he believed the terrorists chose the World Trade Center in New York City because it is “the baby of the capitalist system.”

“Obviously the people who did this must be in complete terror and rage to think this is justified,” he said.

Al Hanan, owner of Strange Brew, sighed before describing his initial reaction to the attacks simply as “sadness.” But he was also concerned about a potential backlash of bigotry.

“When you have something like this happen, which is an amazing tragedy, and you have emotions inflamed, the fear will cause people to strike out against the innocent,” he said.

Noel Terrell commented on her initial reaction as she watched the news. “Disbelief, but at the same time I was not surprised, because it’s been just a matter of time. People have been speculating this would happen for a long time … and, frankly, there are a lot of countries that hate us,” she said.

“It’s a very provincial and arrogant idea by Americans that we’re immune to death and destruction,” Terrell said. “We inflict it on others all the time. And somehow we think we’re better than that?

“I think retaliation is a bad idea, because I don’t think more people getting killed is going to help anybody.”

Lloyd Miller said he was horrified, but while he felt the attacks may have come from a terrorist organization in the Middle East, he warned against the implications of accusatory behavior.

“I can only think of the Middle East as a place where these feelings would come from,” he said. “But until anyone knows for sure, I think it is dangerous to condemn or outright accuse. I think that could lead to more problems.”

Jose Olivares, a South Lake Tahoe resident on business in New Orleans, was unable to conduct business at offices in the New Orleans World Trade Center Tuesday. The building, considered by government officials to be a potential target for further terrorists acts, was closed.

He referred to the hijacking of the four planes as “total incompetence,” on the part of airport security officials.

“It’s kind of scary, especially when you fly a lot,” said Olivares, who flies 20,000 to 30,000 miles per year.

Olivares, who was watching the news from his hotel room said, “The people I work with are just in shock.”

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