- The Washington Times - Monday, October 8, 2001

Yesterday will be remembered by those living in the cradle of Washington as a sunny day that came in like a lamb and quickly turned into a lion as the United States and its allies began a ground and air attack against the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.
Customers at a Best Buy store at Pentagon City in Arlington crowded around the row of television sets to watch the fighting 7,200 miles from their homes in the District and its suburbs.
Across the Potomac River, hundreds of charity-riding bikers on Harleys cheered the country's retaliation for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center in New York City that killed more than 5,000 Americans.
The bikers, who had raised $25,000 for the victims of the Pentagon attack, had just reached the western steps of the Capitol when they first heard news of the U.S. strikes over their radios. "Well, it's about time," said Fred Rodgers of Waynesboro, Va., a member of the Shenandoah Valley Harley Owners Group. "We've got to stop the terrorists. This is great news."
The war dominated the thoughts of most everyone, from all walks of life.
It was the first thing Archbishop Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick saw when he walked into a home in Colters Point, Md., after blessing a fleet of five boats on the Potomac River. There was a television set on, tuned to CNN, and explosions filled the screen. Then he heard a broadcast of terrorist leader Osama bin Laden denouncing the United States and its allies.
Cardinal McCarrick called the U.S. response "expected and necessary."
The attacks on the World Trade Center hit the cardinal close to home. His cousin's son is one of the hundreds of New York City firefighters missing in the rubble. Michael Lynch, 30, was one of the first who ran into the second building to rescue victims before the tower collapsed.
"I have three prayers in my heart," the cardinal said, just before leaving to celebrate another Mass at 3 p.m.
"First is for our servicemen and women, that they may be safe and fulfill their mission with courage and honor. The second is the nation's goals of punishing the guilty and destroying this network of evil may be successfully accomplished. And third, that all this may be done without the loss of life of innocent people and are always guided by the principles of morality and human dignity that have constantly marked the noblest aspirations of the American character."
Other religious leaders said they fully supported the president's decision to retaliate. "I think the president is doing what he needs to do to protect the nation and all of its citizens," said the Rev. Walter Rossi, assistant rector at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Northeast. "I don't believe he's behaving haphazardly, but cautiously."
It would be hard to find someone yesterday who would disagree with a single word the clergy said.
"We had no other choice, unless we wanted to look like fools," said Kerry Barr, a student at Indiana State University who was sightseeing near the Capitol, about an hour after learning the United States and its allies were fighting on Afghan soil.
Joey Klein of Cleveland shared her sentiment. "It's our job as leaders of the free world to show that [terrorism] is not tolerated. We had to do something," he said.
Some said President Bush had waited too long to strike, giving bin Laden time to flee. "We gave him a chance to hide by waiting this long," said Colin Mallory of Madison, Va.
Many others were glad the president took time to organize the troops and win support from allies like England and Germany.
"Waiting shows maturity, and I think Mr. Bush did the right thing by taking his time," said Kenneth Fielding, a tourist from Idaho. "If we had rushed into it, more countries would have supported the Taliban."
State and local politicians agreed with the public.
"I think what the leadership is doing is right we've got time on our side, but we have got to stop terrorism," said Maryland Sen. Walter M. Baker, Eastern Shore Democrat and former Army sergeant who was deployed to Germany after World War II as part of a force sent to curb Soviet expansion in Europe.
Maryland House Minority Leader Robert H. Kittleman, a Howard County Republican who is a retired Navy officer and engineer, praised Mr. Bush's actions to date. "He has been prudent from all I can tell," Mr. Kittleman said. "It's not just a wild strike just to say he's done something."
Yesterday began as an ordinary Sunday for most local folks, having brunch at restaurants or at home, playing or watching football, or attending church services. Mr. Bush had started his day in Emmitsburg, Md., at a memorial service for the nation's 101 firefighters who died in the line of duty last year.
Monique Washington of Northwest was out taking advantage of the Columbus Day sales at the Pentagon City shopping center as morning turned to afternoon. "I guess I was expecting us going to war sometime during the week," she said. "I guess this caught me off guard. Now I have to go home and watch the news."
"If we didn't retaliate, I'd like for the politicians to explain why we didn't to the 6,000 buried in the rubble," said Mr. Mallory, a member of the Harley Owners Group. He had wrapped an American flag around his head to show his support for the latest military response.
Vietnam veteran and Harley owner Roger Wood of Charlottesville said he wouldn't mind going to fight for his country. "We need to take care of this completely, once and for all, so us guys from Vietnam would be proud," said Mr. Wood, who was a helicopter captain in 1965. "I'd love to be over there myself."
Still, some said they will be more wary now. A strike on Afghanistan could mean more terrorist attacks on Americans throughout the country. "Another strike on America is inevitable," said Mr. Klein. "I don't want to be retaliated upon. But we are doing what we have to do."
Margie Hyslop contributed to this report

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