Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Long-Ago Thanksgiving Terror

So this is where we are now. As Americans travel to join their families, they can be grateful that, unlike holiday turkeys, they will not undergo "cavity searches," although other body parts may be subject to close scrutiny.

In our sophisticated time, cliches about family stress and dissension have replaced those Norman Rockwell rosy images of holiday reunions, but now just getting to them can be nerve-wracking as stepped-up airport procedures to prevent terrorism are provoking public debate.

Is any part of American life now not being held hostage to post-9/11 fear? This may not come under the heading of reassurance, but an octogenarian editor can recall the first in-flight bombing just before Thanksgiving 55 years ago that killed 44 Americans over Colorado.

The bomber was not a foreign terrorist but a 23-year-old local sociopath who had bought life insurance at the airport for his mother as she left to spend the holidays with other family members. He had helped her pack for the trip, neatly stowing 25 sticks of dynamite in the suitcase.

No airport security measures followed. In those days, Americans shrugged at such tragedies, executed the culprit and treated them as isolated acts of nature.

But we know better now. Murderous lunatics are loose everywhere, and all the technology in the world can't fully protect us from their reach. As it tries, annoying and even embarrassing excesses may come with it, but that's the world we live in. There is no going back to the time when that Colorado bomber was an aberration.

Have a happy, and more important, safe Thanksgiving.


hking said...

I was not aware of the 1955 bombing, but I do remember the hijacking in the 70's that began our march toward the crazy place we find ourselves today. I think we should turn back the clock and live with the possibility of death. We are all going to die someday. I enjoy your blog. Have a great holiday.

Christina G. said...

Maybe one of the saddest aspects of our world today is that there is no 'going-back' to what once was - and finally accepting that.

History is on the move, forward. Utimately, what dwells in our heart may be what keeps us safe, more so than externals. And, appearances to the contrary, I still believe that God is in control, and is at work in our world. We don't do nothing, but we aren't alone in this.