Young voices on 'the call of a nation in need'

In high school, we are often taught not about the great things America has done, but the bad things in our history - slavery, racism, abuse of Native Americans, selfish foreign policy, the unfairness of the Mexican-American war. But these terrorist events will change my generation, uniting our country for the first time since World War II. Americans want a reason to support our country and feel that we are on the right side.

I can't remember the cold war, and this is the first time I recall Americans feeling truly united. Unlike before, I am proud to be an American, to have fellow citizens emerging as heroes. I write this feeling that it is true - that I am not just repeating clichés.

This tragedy is not the fault of airline security, the CIA, or Congress. The last thing we want is for America to argue about who is to blame. Cynic that I sometimes am, I refuse to blame anyone but the terrorists.I'd like the American government to know it has our full support for the first time in decades. I'd like to tell the terrorists that their attack has only strengthened our unity and love of country.

Maia Krause Edmonds, Wash.

As we open our eyes to the new day that has so horribly aroused us, we must decide how to heed the call of a nation in need of heroes. My friends and I will answer the call with all our hearts. But as I walk the halls of my high school, I see the faces of boys who laugh and joke, chase girls, and make fun - and I realize that we do not comprehend the enormity of our task.

This will be my generation's defining moment. So what are we to do in the face of war? We should look to the past, listen to what those heroes have to say, and let their words bolster our resolve. Our bright days were handed to us by people whose hands were hardened in battle; we must be ready to make the same commitment. They walked in our schools one day, they fought on our battlefields the next. But in everything they did, they called to their descendants, "Come, take the gift we have bought with our lives - but be ready to defend it with your own."

Matthew Ryan Heape Corpus Christi, Tex.

Everyone is talking, mourning, and speculating: Will World War III begin before our eyes? I am not ready for war, but I know it might be inevitable. A few months ago, I would have given anything to prevent President Bush from gaining office. But with such a serious matter at hand, the half of the nation that didn't favor Mr. Bush - myself included - needs to rally behind him. The international coalition depends on this. If other nations see that we aren't willing to encourage our own cause, they will be reluctant to help us in the war against terrorism.

Bush is doing a decent job. And so I pledge to develop a stronger sense of national pride. I have high hopes that others will join me.

Emily Byers Gainesville, Fla.

I have grown up in peaceful times. My understanding of politics, developed at the end of the cold war, and my childhood memories of Desert Storm gave me a sense of safety that never required doubt. Now, I am consumed with the idea that our world has been changed by people with no respect for human life. For the first time, I find myself seeking answers and reassurance from people other than my family, friends, and teachers. For the first time, I am closely watching the actions and words of political leaders. Through people like Rudolph Giuliani, rescue workers, and selfless volunteers, innocent lives wasted by evil will not vanish into nothingness. Their light shines through us, in the stars of the flag itself. My fear will be obliterated, and I will grow to contribute to society as a wiser, stronger person.

Nicole M. Stolba Kent, Wash.

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