Terror In New York

Hard To Find A Silver Lining In This Attack

A weekly commentary by CBS News Correspondent Andy Rooney:



The television cameras were focused on what had been the World Trade Center. The phone rang, and it was my friend, John Sharnik, calling to say he didn't have anything to say.

That's the way I felt. I wanted to write, but I didn't know what to write. Nothing that came to mind was important enough. Who am I to explain the inexplicable?

All four kids called - Ellen from London in tears. Were we okay? They knew we were, but it was a time for love.

I stared at the blank screen on my computer, then turned it off and went down to the sixth floor and kissed Judy. I just felt like it.

In the elevator, two young men said they going to give blood. A third man, staring at the floor, looked up and said, "Radio just announced people have already given so much, they don’t need any more."

Maybe you thought New Yorkers don’t give a damn.

I saw the worst of World War II. I watched while the Luftwaffe destroyed most of London. I walked into Buchenwald while they were taking those pictures you've seen so often. I've seen a lot, but no single day in the history of the world exceeds in evil the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.

We try to get over feeling bad about something by thinking of the good things about it. "At least he didn't suffer" we say of a friend who dies of a heart attack.

It's not easy to find anything good about this. Yassir Arafat condemned it. If he means it, maybe he'll help us find who did it. That would be good.

It could have been worse. You could say that. They might have released anthrax spores that killed millions instead of thousands.

Our FBI and CIA have been too concerned with their own problems to serve the nation well. Donald Rumsfeld was asked if they had advance information about the attack. He said he couldn't answer questions about our intelligence. "No" was probably the honest answer.

The CIA and FBI hide behind this convenient veil of secrecy; and if this forces them to improve, that will be good.

Television news has been magnificent. This is World News Tonight with Peter Jennings...Dan Rather reporting from CBS News Heaadquarters in New York...NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw.

The airlines have not treated us well over the years. We can't take any pleasure from their pain now, but we can do what we should have done all along. Take the train. Freight should be moved - steel wheels on steel rails, to free our highways of suffocating traffic. That would be good.

I have often thought of how strange it is that it took something so terrible as WW II to bring out the best in Americans. We worked harder and did more good things from 1942 to 1945 than ever before or ever since.

If this attack produces that same feeling of togetherness - in this generation - and there is evidence it is doing that, that will not have been all bad.

Tom Brokaw's Greatest Genration will have to make room for another.


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  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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