Washington unfurls the Stars and Stripes
By BARRIE MCKENNA
Thursday, September 13, 2001
WASHINGTON -- Residents of the U.S. capital are displaying a mix of patriotism and anger in the aftermath of the deadly terrorist strike on their city.
Throughout Washington's leafy residential neighbourhoods yesterday, people draped U.S. flags over balconies, out of windows and on car antennas.
Elsewhere in the city, the Stars and Stripes -- a symbol of freedom to most Americans -- flew at half-staff outside government buildings, hotels and office towers.
"This was a very overt action against our people, everyday people," said Marsha Moore, an early-childhood educator from Atlanta.
Standing outside the White House, Ms. Moore said the deadly attacks won't change the way she lives.
"I'm a little scared, [but] I'm not going to live in fear," said Ms. Moore, who is in Washington for an education conference. "If these are acts of terrorism, it doesn't matter where we are. We've got to keep going. Keep our government going, keep our economy going. We have to be strong. We can't be petrified."
Nonetheless, it was clear that life is only slowly returning to normal. Ms. Moore's conference, like many events here, has been cancelled.
Most schools and many businesses remained closed. Early in the day, it was difficult to find a cup of coffee because many restaurants and coffee shops remained closed. More than 24 hours after the attack on the Pentagon, normally clogged streets were nearly deserted.
"There seems to be an eerie silence," said Anthony Duggan, a hotel worker. "You don't hear sirens, no one yelling for cabs."
The regional transit authority reported that the number of passengers on buses and subways was at nearly a third of normal weekday levels.
Meanwhile, federal and local police, backed by the National Guard, patrolled downtown streets in a symbolic gesture to reassure people the city is safe. Outside the White House, dozens of machine-gun-toting Secret Service agents patrolled the grounds with explosives-sniffing dogs. "All the camouflaged guards on street corners is both comforting and disconcerting," said David Fischer, a Washington lawyer. "I'm not used to seeing guys with assault rifles here."