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9/11: A Year After / WHO WE ARE NOW

Bob Cook

The World War II veteran and VFW commander, 77, sizes up the new enemy.

September 11, 2002

"We have about 1,000 members at the VFW here. They're all getting old. After Sept. 11, all of them wanted to go after Afghanistan and everything, but now nobody really knows what to do. Here we've attacked Afghanistan and now we're kind of stymied.

You know, back when I fought, there wasn't any question of who the enemy was. You had two enemies: Germany and Japan.

I was on the second floor of our home in Illinois the day of Pearl Harbor, and I heard it on the radio and ran down to the basement where my mother was. In that time war was imminent; Pearl Harbor was just the event that triggered it.

My brother and I ran out and joined the Marine Corps. I was in the South Pacific for 2 1/2 years. We'd been raised to fight that war; it was something we knew was going to happen.

This type of warfare we're involved in now is entirely different. Anything that happens from terrorism is different from saturation bombings. It really is a bigger threat, because it's something you just can't control. The world is such a vast place, so many billions of people out there. And it could be any of them.

You know, ever since World War II, America hasn't really been loved by the rest of the world. I remember when my brother traveled to Europe a few years ago. He could see there were a great deal of people in the world that--well, we think that everybody loves America, and that's not the case. It wasn't something that developed overnight. This has been going on for a long time.

Still, nobody wants to be fearful, and the government shouldn't try to make Americans fearful. I think they started to do that for a while there, to scare people, and then I noticed they backed off a bit. Terrorism is one of the things we just have to live with. And America will survive."


As told to Megan K. Stack

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