Our Opinion: A leader's test

September 22, 2001

When President George W. Bush was elected amid a voting controversy, there were questions about his support. More than half the voters had cast ballots for Al Gore. There were concerns whether Bush could pull the country together.

On Sept. 11 a terrorist attack on American soil united the country more than any leader could. It was a unity formed from our fear and shock as thousands of our people lost their lives. Now it has become a unity forged out of anger and resolve.

It will take a leader of considerable strength to maintain that unity and that is the challenge facing Bush. It is a challenge he likely did not expect. Who would have guessed our mighty country was this susceptible to the kind of violence we thought occurred only on foreign soil?

On Thursday, Bush proved to be a leader who cannot only keep the country united but can unite the world in the quest to do away with those who would commit such evil acts against innocent people.


What Bush needed to do he did. He needed to tell the Taliban, the ruling party in Afghanistan that is harboring Osama Bin Laden, that it must hand him over along with ending all terrorist operations in the country. He told the world America is strong and the battle ahead is not for America alone. His words were powerful and he did not waiver. He has given America the leadership it so dearly needs right now.

However, the true test is ahead. Terrorism will not be wiped out by words alone. We need action, and it will be tough on the country if we have to wait months for that action to start. Bush is going to have to find some way to keep the country and world patient while our nation's military plans the best course of action. As America launches its war against terrorism, the president is going to have to maintain unity in the face of death, and it is possible there will be more death.

One of the toughest battles ahead will be in protecting the nation's economy. It is a battle that will be won not by Bush or Congress but by each one of us. As the president said in his speech, we need to get back to our lives and we need to spend. That is how we keep our economy strong.

We in the Imperial Valley can do our part to help the economy by doing what we always do — buying cars, going to movies, buying clothes, going out to dinner. It may not seem like much, but it is essential. We need to show terrorists they cannot break our spirits, nor bring the world to its knees. Every dollar we spend can help ensure the terrorists do not win.

We all cannot be up at the front lines of the battle, but we still have the power to serve our nation. Not letting your life be altered greatly by terrorism may be your way.

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