I spoke with a woman from New York state on Tuesday as she listened to her local radio station advise residents to stock supplies of fresh water and food and to tape their windows to prevent glass from shattering. She was not being advised of bad weather. She was being advised of preparations for war. And that one, brief sobering conversation truly hit home.
It appears likely that as soon as next week, our great nation may indeed embark on a war against Iraq with an equally cautious eye toward North Korea. It could be argued that our nation has not been this close to a major conflict in a generation or more. Our children are totally unprepared for the events that may well unfold all too soon.
I guess what's the most frightening about the upcoming prospect is the distinct chance that at least some of the casualties of this war may happen here at home. Terrorist attacks such as the Sept. 11 tragedy in New York are again threatened on several fronts. And we all know that despite our best efforts, our nation - or any nation - stands unprepared to thwart all attempts at homeland terrorism. A dedicated zealot can and will attack and we are virtually helpless. It's that helpless feeling perhaps that makes the upcoming war prospect so frightening.
Granted, there is no unanimity in this nation or around the world that war is inevitable. But each passing day brings us perilously closer to the reality that conflict is just around the corner. Young Americans will soon stand in harm's way and, though their cause is noble, real lives are at stake. It's a sobering thought.
Once the conflict has begun, we'll stand more united than we are today. The concerns over France and Germany and Belgium - strong allies with cold feet - will vanish rapidly. And too we'll gain a greater appreciation of the British and the Australians and the others who will stand shoulder-to-shoulder even though their stake in this conflict is much less than ours.
We'll go into this conflict believing that God is on our side and the Muslims will enter with the same zeal and dedication that Allah is on their side. Wars over religious differences have been a mark of mankind since the very beginning. And at the core of this conflict stands religious differences. Those who assert that oil or power or money is the root of this war are just plain wrong. But that too will matter little when American blood is being shed.
I pray the day does not come in this country when we rush to the store for food supplies to prepare for war. Our children must never know that fear. Yet my wishes and prayers may fall on deaf ears in the weeks and months ahead. God help us all in these turbulent times. God help us all...