Students express mixed reactions to U.S. counterattack
By HELENA PAYNE
Assistant News Editor
Notre Dame students had mixed reactions to the U.S. military air strikes in Afghanistan Sunday. The air strikes focused on areas suspected to be terrorist training camps were in response to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11 at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. On the Notre Dame campus, far from the attacks, many students have responded to the recent events with various levels of emotional attachment to the conflict, but with the common goal of reaching peace swiftly.
Junior Steve Kelly from Massachusetts said he learned about both the terrorists attacks on Sept. 11 and the U.S. retaliation by fellow students in his dorm and has been uneasy about the circumstances.
"I think something else is going to happen," said Kelly. "That makes me real nervous."
The brother of Kelly's best friend is a secret service agent that was working in the World Trade Center on the day of the bombings. Although he escaped, Kelly said knowing somebody who was directly affected by the bombings has sharpened the impact of the terrorism conflict on his life.
"I'm amazed at how large the reaction is here," said Kelly.
Kelly said he was impressed by the patriotic reactions of the Notre Dame community mentioning how all the spectators at the Michigan State and Notre Dame football game raised flags during "America, the Beautiful."
"That showed the most humanity I've ever seen," said Kelly.
Although, Kelly saw a positive aspect in the U.S.'s unity during this time of conflict, freshman Meredith Thornburgh said the U.S. retaliations were the extra step needed to respond to the terrorist attacks after almost a month of no military retaliation.
"I feel like Bush probably took a lot of time to think about what would be appropriate," said Thornburgh. "It's just a very complicated issue. It's hard to fight a war against people who aren't afraid of dying."
Although Thornburgh is from Indianapolis, she, like Kelly, knew someone close to her that was in New York City on the day of the attacks. Thornburgh's aunt, an attorney, was in court four blocks away from the World Trade Center when planes crashed into the Twin Towers. Thornburgh didn't hear from her aunt until 10 a.m. on Sept. 12, the day after the attack.
Since Thornburgh heard about the U.S. air strikes in Afghanistan, she said she was finally reassured that the U.S. wasn't going to ignore what happened.
"I definitely don't have a problem with war as long as it's justified," said Thornburgh. "It's just sad that the U.S. government knew what the Taliban was doing long before they took action."
Another freshman, Alicia D'Alessandro from New Jersey, said it has been difficult to be away from home during this period of unrest.
"The only day I felt really homesick was the day of the attacks," said D'Alessandro whose uncle is a police officer for the New York Police Department stationed at ground zero to do relief work after the attacks.
"I didn't know for a couple of hours if my family was OK," said D'Alessandro.
Despite the anxiety caused by the attacks, D'Alessandro said she was glad to have to support that she has found on campus.
"If I had to be away from home, Notre Dame is a great place two be because of the whole religious community," said D'Alessandro.
She also said that although she would like to see a nonviolent end to the conflict, the U.S. retaliation was a good decision.
"Even though this is drastic, it's better than sitting back and allowing [terrorism] to happen," said D'Alessandro. "I just hope this is resolved as quickly as possible because it's trying for everyone."
Differing from those who want a quick resolution to the tension, even if violent, Josh Berg, a junior at Michigan State who visited Notre Dame friends this past weekend, had a negative reaction to the U.S.'s method of retaliation.
"This was another example of the U.S. retaliating in an unreasonable manner. I don't think it will accomplish anything," said Berg. "The only purpose is so that the public feels we got revenge in some way."
Berg said that the air strikes didn't seem to be the best way to respond to the terrorism attacks.
"We should fight war with peace instead of war with war," said Berg who noticed that many students seemed to support the U.S. retaliation. He also said he considered the Notre Dame student body to be more conservative and therefore likely to encourage a strong military retaliation.
"I think the general consensus in everyone is rallying behind the president. It sort of makes me feel disenchanted with the American public," said Berg.
Like Berg, senior Kate Ponto said she has also been somewhat disillusioned by the recent events connected to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
"The talk about retaliation upsets me," said senior Kate Ponto. "I'm just worried about what it'll lead to, who will get hurt, and if it's the best thing."
Ponto, born and raised in Kalamazoo, Michigan, said it is hard for her to feel closely attached to the terrorist attacks because she didn't know anybody affected by them.
"It doesn't seem very connected to my life," said Ponto. "[New York and Washington, D.C., are] part of the very unreal world that comes to me through TV."
Just like the `unreal world' that Ponto sees on television, she said this new campaign against terrorism has been like yet another saga in American history that has visibly captured the attention of students in a way that she hasn't seen during her years at Notre Dame.
"I don't think I've seen anything quality as dramatic as what has happened," said Ponto.
Contact Helena Payne at
All News Stories for Monday, October 8, 2001