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TK's MORNING BUZZ: Do You Have Something to Say, Feelings to Express, a Story to Tell? Step Up to the Open Microphone

17 Sep, 2001 By: Thomas K. Arnold

It's been nearly a week since the unfathomable terrorist attack on the United States, and I'm still finding it incredibly difficult to address problems unique to our industry.

I fully understand how our Congress feels -- their divisive stands on Social Security and other issues seems like a foggy memory, and it's highly unlikely our elected representatives will debate anything other than how best to destroy the terrorists who have ripped the blanket of security from over our heads and brought us face to face with our own vulnerability.

This week, I'd like the Morning Buzz to be an open microphone to those of you in our industry who have things to say, feelings to express, stories to relate.

Over the weekend I received an essay via e-mail from retailer Jim Rice of Reel Entertainment Video in Erie, Pa. I'd like to share it with you.

Good Morning Tom,

Although my story may seem trivial compared to those who lost someone in Tuesday's attack on America, my experience allowed me to reflect on the freedom we have and how important it is to preserve this freedom.

On Tuesday morning I began my day boarding a Southwest Airlines flight from Buffalo, N.Y., to Baltimore, Md., to enjoy a two-day vacation with my girlfriend. I take this trip about three times in the summer to catch a baseball game at Candem Yards and to enjoy the beautiful Inner Harbor area of Baltimore. Our plane took off at 7:25 a.m. and arrived in Baltimore at 8:15 a.m. We got off our plane and headed to a Cinnobun stand for breakfast before catching the light rail to downtown Baltimore and our hotel.

It was a little after 9 a.m. when my girlfriend called her mom from my cell phone to let her know that we arrived safely. Mom worries when we fly.

While speaking to her mom on the phone the news broke on television and her mom shared it with us over the phone. At that time little did we know that our trip and our freedom as Americans was being compromised.

Our train came so my girlfriend said good-bye to her mom and we got on the light rail for the 20-minute trip to downtown. We had thought this was a terrible accident and we would get more information when we got to our hotel.

What we got when we got to our hotel was 30 to 40 people in front of the concierge's desk watching this horror unfold, a line at the rent-a car counter in the hotel 10 to 20 people deep and not an empty pay phone in the place. By that time what we had thought was a terrible accident had turned into an intentional assault on our freedom.

Slowly but surely our freedom was being taken away. First all planes were grounded, taking our freedom to move about our country and get home.

Next the baseball game was canceled, taking away our freedom to enjoy the great American pastime. Then all attractions and restaurants in downtown Baltimore closed. The police surrounded the tallest building in Baltimore, also called the World Trade Center, with dump trucks and police officers in riot gear.

Having nothing else to do we checked into our room and did what millions of Americans did and watched the TV coverage of this terrible, terrible tragedy from our harbor-view room, which was also compromised by the Coast Guard ship which made sure that no other ships came into the harbor.

As we watched the stories come in over the next two days and the magnitude of this event unfold, one thought kept coming into my mind. It is terribly, terribly wrong for anyone to take away someone's son, daughter, brother, sister, mother, father, friend or neighbor. Watching the stories of those who lost someone, I cried because they will never be able to enjoy the company of that person again. Their freedom was also compromised.

Again, the inconvenience I had does not even compare to those who lost a loved one, but it did allow me to reflect on the freedom we have. When that freedom is compromised it is duty of this country' s leaders to react -- to not only punish those responsible, but also to ensure that no other American's freedom is taken away the way it was on Tuesday.

I support our President and his staff as they pursue the proper response to this attack and my prayers are with all who lost someone in this attack on our freedom.

Comments? Contact TK directly at:TKArnold@aol.com

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