Sat, Sep 11, 2004 - Page 7 News List

Horrific memories of attacks linger

TROUBLING Although Americans will never forget the events of that fateful day, most worry more about the benign problems in life than another terrorist attack


The memories of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 are burned deeply into the US consciousness, but Americans today are not as fearful of becoming victims of terrorism as they are of losing their jobs or having their homes burglarized.

In a measure of the trauma of that day, a poll found that 98 percent remember exactly what they were doing three years ago when hijackers flew jetliners into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, killing almost 3,000 people.

Those memories can resurface with the most routine cues, a plane flying overhead, a siren from a passing ambulance or news about the ongoing war in Iraq.

"I hardly go to Manhattan any more," said Andre Garcia, a 20-year-old student from the Bronx, the New York City borough. "I don't call it a fear; I call it being safe. I don't want to be over there when it happens."

Dawn Davis, a 40-year-old working mother in rural Arkansas, remembers hearing about the attacks that day, turning on the television and staying glued to the set for the rest of the day, watching the Twin Towers collapse, people falling to their deaths, pedestrians fleeing in the streets.

"I just stayed on the couch, crying all day," she said. Now when she hears a plane go overhead, she sometimes wonders: "I think it could be a plane ready to bomb where we live."

For most, the dominant feeling about that day was deep anger that anyone would commit such an act against this country, the poll conducted for the the Associated Press by Ipsos-Public Affairs found. Republicans and Democrats were equally likely to say they felt that way.

Juan Jose Torres, a 32-year-old school teacher from Laredo, Texas, says that after the attacks his students overwhelmed him with questions he couldn't answer.

American worries

Q.How often do you worry about the following things?

1.Getting hurt in a car accident:

-Frequently, 14 percent

-Occasionally, 41 percent

-Rarely, 30 percent

-Never, 15 percent

2.Not being able to pay your bills:

-Frequently, 24 percent

- Occasionally, 26 percent

- Rarely, 28 percent

- Never, 22 percent

3.Getting cancer:

- Frequently, 15 percent

- Occasionally, 32 percent

- Rarely, 34 percent

- Never, 19 percent

4.A family member losing a job:

- Frequently, 18 percent

- Occasionally, 27 percent

- Rarely, 28 percent

- Never, 27 percent

5. Becoming a victim of terrorism:

- Frequently, 14 percent

- Occasionally, 27 percent

- Rarely, 33 percent

- Never, 25 percent

- Unsure, 1 percent

6. Having your home burglarized:

- Frequently, 11 percent

- Occasionally, 28 percent

- Rarely, 38 percent

- Never, 23 percent

7.Becoming a victim of a disaster like a hurricane, tornado or earthquake:

- Frequently, 8 percent

- Occasionally, 21 percent

- Rarely, 39 percent

- Never, 32 percent

- Unsure, 1 percent

Q.How concerned are you about the chance that you or your family might be the victim of a terrorist attack? - A great deal, 7 percent

- Somewhat, 31 percent

- Not too much, 34 percent

- Not at all, 28 percent

Q. How much does this concern affect how you live your life? - A great deal, 10 percent (4 overall)

- Somewhat, 38 percent (14 overall)

- Not too much, 33 percent (13 overall)

- Not at all, 19 percent (7 overall)

- Not concerned, (62 overall)

Q. Do you remember where you were when you learned of the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington D.C. or not? - Yes, 98 percent

- No, 2 percent

Source: AP

"I had to admit I didn't know what was going on," Torres said. "I just freaked out. The memory pops up from time to time,'' he said. "If I hear a siren, the first thing I think of is 9/11. If somebody screams, I think about 9/11."

About four in 10 Americans say they worry about becoming victims of terrorism. That's about the same level of concern people have about getting burglarized or losing their jobs.

Women were more likely than men to worry about being victimized by terrorists, but they were also more likely to worry about other things such as a burglary or having a car accident.

Heather Rojo, a 26-year-old wife and mother from Pierre, South Dakota, says she feels insulated from terrorism now, after feeling threatened when she and her husband lived in Orange County, California.

"The times the worry pops up with me is when we fly a couple of times a year," she said. "I actually have chosen to drive instead of flying."

When people were asked whom they blame for the terrorist attacks, most name the terrorists, but seven in 10 said they blame the CIA and almost that many faulted the FBI and airline security.

"It's a little bit of everybody's fault," said Jeannie Cvetich, a 57-year-old leasing agent from Shoreview, Minnesota. "But I think it was unavoidable. How could you possibly think that was going to happen?"

Only one in five of those who worry about a terrorist attack say it affects how they live.

For Tony Volpitta, a 34-year-old father of three daughters from Curtis, Ohio, it's more of a nagging fear about the future.

"I just hope I can watch them graduate," Volpitta said of his daughters. "I hope we're not all on the run like in Terminator."

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