SIKESTON - Only time will tell what 2002 has in store for Americans. But for those making predictions, hope seems to be the general feeling.
Eleven-year-old Britni Scott says in many ways the terrorist attacks have made America better than it was. "We're a lot stronger than we were before Sept. 11 and we know now that we're not going to let anyone pass us. Now we're not just a little piece, we're one united. In a donut there's just a little hole. Now we have a cake because there are no holes."
Although the third-grader aspires to be a clothes designer, she admits her future plans did lean more toward becoming an FBI or CIA agent right after Sept. 11. But now, she said, she's back to wanting to be a designer.
Britni has few fears about what the future holds, believing the key to getting on with our lives is working together.
"We're going to get through it," she said with certainty.
"Now it's not just the firefighters and policemen working through this, we are too. The terrorists were smart enough to bring down the twin towers but now we're smart enough not to wait for something else to happen. We're going to fight back."
Britni said she and her classmates still talk about what happened, adding that it has definitely made a difference in them. "We're still sad," she said. "We're still the same people we were, but we're trying to be a little bit nicer to each other. We're trying to say nice things and have good manners. We're also trying to help our teacher more."
Desmond Jackson sees the same in his peers. The 15-year-old said he and his fellow students are trying to make better grades and are focusing on doing better in school overall.
"I think about the future more, too, and the importance of my family. I'm trying to go see my grandparents more."
For many, 2002 will bring with it a stronger faith and a deeper appreciation for what one has rather than wishing for more. "There was such devastation in the terrible incident Sept. 11 that I think from that it made so many of us realize just how blessed we are," said Barb Williamson. "If we were directly affected by it or even if we weren't, our hearts went out to everybody. I think it was a sense of pride and it put everybody in more of a spirit of giving and what we can do for others. I really think it brought us closer."
Judy Morrow remarked her faith in God has strengthened, adding that the new year will see her having more compassion for others.
Kathy Medley said in 2002 Americans will be more aware of their vulnerability and at the same time not take their freedom for granted.
"I am very optimistic about the future," Medley said. "I feel that everything we have been through this year has only made us stronger as a nation and as individuals. Maybe we will not take our freedoms for granted. I was deeply touched at the closing of midnight Mass on Christmas Eve when Father Schneider said we have two Marines with us tonight, please help me show them how much we appreciate their service to our country. He started clapping and we all joined in and gave them a standing ovation. It surprised and maybe embarrassed the Marines but it made everyone there a little more aware of the sacrifices being made for us."
Although most people have a positive outlook about the future, Desmond said he can't honestly say he's not somewhat apprehensive. "I think 2002 will be different because of all the safety precautions at the airports. But the future kind of worries me. You just think about what happened in September and you never know."