Our oldest daughter, who graduated from the University of Iowa the previous spring and headed to Chicago to work, called me at The Gazette in the early afternoon of Sept. 11, 2001. All the stores were closed, people were fleeing town and no one was on the streets, she told me from her Lincoln Park apartment just off the usually busy Clark Street.
People feared Chicago may be a target and were jamming the expressways, she said. “I’m scared,” she said.
I was juggling my particular work assignments as The Gazette’s Iowa City editor at that time but had to take a moment on the phone and tell one of the three children who had trusted their mother and father to care for them as they grew up something I never imagined saying:
I can’t guarantee that you are safe.
And while both my wife and I advised our daughter on things to do — don’t try driving out of town on the expressway, find a spot where others may gather, find a church, stay home and lock the doors — we faced the same truth Americans across the country realized at that particular moment.
In a country where freedom allows us to think and act as individuals and where our notion of personal safety in public far exceeds that of countries where dangers run from out-of-control crime to government-support anarchy to civil war, we couldn’t be guaranteed that we were safe.