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by Ken Johnston

It is a number so many of us know to call for emergencies. It is also the date the free world will never forget. It is the date that terrorists flew planes into the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon.

The tragedy happened just as I was leaving the printing plant last Tuesday with the Record. I spent the entire trip from Fort Frances to Rainy River in a daze. I was glued to the radio on which I managed to pick up a Bemidji station that was relaying live the ABC television coverage with Peter Jennnings.

When I returned to the office I so desperately wanted to see footage and like so many places of work, in Canada and the U.S., one of the employees had brought in a television.

Seeing the pictures it ripped my soul out... I felt anger, despair and complete emptiness. I did not know the people that were killed but I felt like I had just learned of the death of a friend.

In a way I think that is what happened. We lost something more than the lives of innocent people. We lost that feeling of total freedom Americans and Canadians have enjoyed for more than two centuries. Later that day I spoke to my father and discussed our annual camping trip to Itasca State Park, south of Bemidji, Minnesota. His immediate reaction was that we should not go. He really felt it would not be the right thing to do.

I thought about it a while, still full of emotion over what had happened, and decided that by staying home the terrorists would be the victor over us.

We had to go and so I pressed the issue with him and we decided to go. When we passed through customs they asked to see in the trunk of the car. My dad and I both expressed what I am sure every Canadian is feeling; our condolences for what happened.

As we travelled to and from the park it became very apparent how deep this issue had touched the United States. Flags were everywhere and flew at half-mast. Cars had them flying from their antennas, in windows and many homeowners had flags flying in their yards or windows.

A store we stopped at was even giving out flags for free. The emotions of this past week ran deep in the U.S. and Canada. While the terrorists struck a nerve they also awoke something I think we have not seen since WW II; a true sense of patriotism for what our free world stands for. We fought together to defend freedom in WW II and we have proven this week that we will stand together against this new enemy and we will not be beaten.

God rest the souls of those lost in the attack and God Bless the Free World.

–Until then,