Amid solemn tributes to victims, skies are quiet
Seattle Times staff reporter
The fighter jets over Puget Sound yesterday were not for our amusement. They weren't acrobats or daredevils. The F-15s and F-16s cruising skies clear of clouds and commercial aircraft flew under control of the North American Aerospace Defense Command. The mission of the Eagles and Fighting Falcons: patrolling for aircraft — planes that could be hijacked and flown into buildings.
This was part of life the day after.
President Bush, Gov. Gary Locke and other political leaders said Tuesday's terrorist attack should not be allowed to change Americans.
But who would ever have imagined planes crashing into buildings — on purpose — before Tuesday morning?
"Life has to go on," Secretary of State Colin Powell said in Washington, D.C. "We cannot be a people who are afraid to live."
But the death toll hadn't even been tallied. There still weren't any baseball games. The Puget Sound Blood Center set a one-day record for donations.
There was mourning to be done in Seattle, 3,000 miles from the death and the rubble. There were obvious signs of a military ready to strike back — just as soon as the enemy is identified.
Airliners were still grounded at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport — a temporary inconvenience but also likely the beginning of a new era of high-security air travel.
All flights were canceled again yesterday, and by the end of the day the U.S. Department of Transportation said full resumption of service would be postponed indefinitely.
It was quiet in the skies yesterday — probably as quiet as it's been since Boeing started building planes here.
Vehicles and passengers were searched at ferry and cruise-ship terminals.
Stranded airline passengers found one-way car rentals hard to come by.
A place to mourn
"I feel different today," said Lydia Galstad, a teacher at Alki Elementary School.
Yesterday at lunch Galstad ran to the store to buy a bouquet of flowers and dropped them at the base of the small-scale Statue of Liberty that stands on Alki Beach.
On Day One, Galstad was very sad. Yesterday, she was mad.
"When I heard they had pulled out only eight survivors I got real angry," she said. She was particularly bothered by the news that the blood banks didn't need donations "because that meant there was no one alive who needed blood."
The statue, put on the beach 49 years ago by Reginald H. Parsons and local Boy Scouts, has become a memorial to those killed Tuesday.
An American flag was draped over one arm of the statue. A bouquet of flowers stuck on the other. A lighted lantern sat at Liberty's feet. People had left a Bible, a Yankees cap, needlework, handwritten prayers, a sailor's hat inscribed with a fat black felt pen, "courage, commitment."
There was a handwritten sign:
"TO THE KILLERS AND COWARDS
"HURT THE USA — YES
"DEFEAT THE USA — NEVER
"GOD BLESS THE USA"
It was signed, "A KOREAN VET."
This sort of public memorial has become a staple of major disasters. At one point yesterday, there were nearly as many reporters, photographers and TV cameras surrounding the statue as mourners.
Galstad has not just gone from sad to angry. She says she is also questioning her own and America's strong support for Israel in the face of opposition from Arab countries.
"Maybe we need to reach out our hands to the Arabs a little more," she said.
What's really important
Others were also dealing with a quick evolution of emotions and even ideology.
"I've always been more of a pacifist and thought government should spend more money on social issues, and now I have to wonder if we don't need to pump up the military budget. I never would have felt that way in a million years," said Sharon Berg.
She was one of about 300 people who last night attended an interfaith prayer service at the Mercer Island Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
"I've gone from shock to anger to sadness, back to anger and sadness again when the anger wears off," said Mercer Island police Sgt. Leslie Burns.
Some yesterday began to look for good — painful truths and horrific epiphanies — in Tuesday's attacks.
"In a way I'm glad America can feel the pain Israel's feeling," said Jason Forbes, who's Jewish and came to the Mercer Island service from Kent. "I'm still in shock and disbelief that we can see this much evil and hate in the world."
Linda Babin, a school psychologist in Lynnwood, said America should use this week's tragedy to re-evaluate what's really important.
"I really do hope there will be a whole lot of serious, deep conversation in our country," she said. "I think our culture needs some adjustment in terms of our values. We've become way, way too materialistic."
No one knows how long the fear will last.
Yesterday, an elevator at the King County Courthouse was coming down from the fifth floor when it paused at the second floor, then dropped the final story to the bottom.
When the doors wouldn't open and no one answered shouts from inside the elevator, said Seattle Times reporter Nancy Bartley, "It occurred to me that maybe everyone had run out of the building and we were stuck there waiting for the building to crumble around us."
Bartley's first thought was that terrorists had struck the courthouse. Before this week, she said, her first thought would have been an earthquake.
After about five or 10 minutes, someone answered the emergency intercom, and the doors opened.
Throughout the area people looked for ways to mourn, inspire or just cheer people up.
Quotations about peace and love had been painted on the Green Lake path.
A barista at the Hot Spot, a drive-through coffee stop near Kirkland, handed out tiny purple ribbons "to brighten your day."
U.S. flags were selling faster than on the Fourth of July at All the King's Flags, a Ballard flag store. They're selling faster than during the Persian Gulf War.
But, said manager Sue Allegra: "I don't want this business. I'd rather have a slow day."
At the Puyallup Fairgrounds, about 9,000 people joined Locke and religious leaders for a memorial service.
The governor recognized that something had changed in Americans.
"Like the victims of this horrific act, we woke up (Tuesday) morning to embrace the ordinariness of a late summer day," he said. "We live, but we will never forget."
Locke urged the crowd to not let anger lead to prejudice. Or worse.
"Even as national authorities focus on suspected individuals and organizations, we must not hurt or terrorize Americans of Arab descent or Islamic faith," Locke said. "We, as Americans, proudly enshrine and practice justice and not vengeance, liberty and not racism and stereotyping."
Seattle-area school administrators, worried about the same thing, reminded staff and students that harassment won't be tolerated.
In a meeting with instructional assistants in bilingual programs, Seattle School District Superintendent Joseph Olchefske advised the teachers to keep a close eye on pupils who might be bullied because of their ethnic background.
Olchefske also noted that children who have come from war-torn nations might be traumatized by the televised scenes of violence in New York and Washington, D.C. A meeting with all bilingual instructors was scheduled for today.
Linda Southall, head counselor at Whitman Middle School in Seattle's Crown Hill area, raised the harassment issue with faculty members and students yesterday.
"We're family here, and we're going to support each other," Southall told sixth graders in an assembly. Southall said she had heard "rumors" of some verbal harassment, and a Franklin High School student complained about harassment of Muslim students.
At Everett High, where students include a significant number of Muslims, the school arranged for an extra police officer to patrol the campus yesterday.
Help pours in
After the initial shock of Tuesday's attack, there were efforts to try to help the victims and their families.
On Tuesday evening, Amazon.com set up its home page so customers could donate $1 to $100 to the American Red Cross. As of last night, the site had collected more than $1.4 million in donations to the Red Cross from more than 47,000 donors.
"This all came about in a few hours as we were transfixed by the images on television," said Patty Smith, an Amazon spokeswoman.
The Seattle mayor's race began sputtering back to life yesterday after a day off Tuesday. The candidates appeared at a forum and while paying homage to the victims, also picked up their familiar campaign themes.
Mayor Paul Schell also met with city workers to praise their efforts keeping Seattle running Tuesday.
Grief counselors offered some advice and Schell urged employees to take advantage of the city's benefits package, which pays for six trauma-counseling sessions.
One woman asked whether that meant six per year or six per disaster.
"A lot of us used them up for the earthquake," she said.
Seattle Times staff reporters Jim Brunner, Keith Ervin, Andrew Garber, Jean Godden, Sara Jean Green, Gina Kim, Molly Martin, Colleen Pohlig, Linda Shaw, Nicole Tsong, Peyton Whitely and Frank Vinluan contributed to this report.