Globalism is the best antidote to terrorism
As the leaves began to change color in the fall of 2001, Parkites were consumed with preparations for the upcoming Winter Olympic Games. Thousands of small planning details related to hosting nearly half of the events absorbed huge amounts of time and took on disproportionate levels of importance. It was a busy, exciting time to be in Utah.
Until Sept. 11.
Even though the terrorist attacks on the East Coast were more than 2,000 miles away, life came to a standstill as citizens stood riveted in front of their TV screens. The Olympics, an obsession a day earlier, plummeted on the community’s list of priorities.
During the following weeks, Park City and Summit County residents learned they had countless connections to the tragedy and they found a multitude of ways to support their fellow citizens in New York, Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania. Local firefighters, search and rescue crews, police officers, sheriff’s deputies, construction workers and health care volunteers traveled back east to lend a hand in the rescue and cleanup efforts. Locally, bars and restaurants held fundraisers while school children collected donations for the families of the victims.
Everything that had seemed so important earlier that year, the Olympic bribery scandal, the spats about venue spending and the turf wars between the Salt Lake organizers and Park City, became insignificant in the face of a bigger question: how to ensure the Olympics would be safe from another terrorist attack.
That endeavor united Park City and Salt Lake for the next five months and, when the flame was finally lit at the Opening Ceremonies, the world joined us in demonstrating that terror would not rule the day. Thanks to lawmen from around the country who guarded our security and to the undaunted visitors from around to the world who attended the Games, the 2002 Olympics turned out to be miraculously free of violence and full of global kinship.
Five years after the careening twin towers, the assault on the Pentagon and the crash of United Flight 93, some of the wounds of Sept.11 have healed. But our vulnerability is still painfully exposed and the spirit of unity has been replaced with political divisiveness, both domestic and foreign.
Monday at 6 p.m. at City Park, Parkites will gather as a community to reflect on how the events of Sept. 11, and subsequent terrorist attacks around the world, have forever changed the landscape. It could also be a perfect opportunity to re-ignite the spirit of global empathy that burned so brightly at the Olympics.
Yes, terrorists are still out there, but as long as different cultures and nations strive for peaceful coexistence and mutual respect, Al Qaeda’s ultimate agenda will be defeated.
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Skier, mountaineer, environmental activist and Park City resident Caroline Gleich writes that Andy Beerman’s commitment to the climate is vital to Park City’s future.