Monday, September 17, 2001

Time to resume routine

By Tom O'Neill
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Today, we return to normal — a word of shattered definition.

        The New York Stock Exchange and the Mercantile Exchange reopen this morning, with implications for every publicly traded local company.

        Major League Baseball and regular prime-time TV scheduling return. A new week of business travel begins.

        Greater Cincinnatians on Sunday expressed a need for “normal” life — if only in defiance of terrorists — but also an uncertainty over what the last week has done to the word's meaning.

        “Normalcy? I'm not sure how to define it anymore,” retired high school English teacher Tom Hipple said Sunday, sitting at the foot of the American flag flying at Fountain Square.

        “It's difficult for everybody, but in light of what happened, I don't think we're going to reach any definition of normalcy anytime soon,” said Mr. Hipple. As the downtown resident stared off in search of words, the ash on his GPC cigarette grew to nearly an inch. When he looked down to take a drag, nothing was left.

        Such is the nation's “normal” sense of security.

        “Look, I'm still numb, and I still, for me, I'll be very frank, this hasn't sunk in,” said Dan Beaver, a professor emeritus at University of Cincinnati who taught courses on American national security policy and war and culture. “The idea of going back to normal, a week after this kind of assault, unless people are utterly provincial, is really impossible.”

        Teresa Pendleton, her son Cody, 9, and daughter Candice, 8, decided that Sunday was the day they would turn off the TV and do something together to help take their minds off disaster.

        So they gathered the neighborhood kids who play at their College Hill home and put up both Halloween decorations and American flags they made out of painted bed sheets.

        “We needed to get back to normality, so we decided that today was the day we'd start decorating for Halloween,” said Ms. Pendleton. “But we didn't want to forget those who suffered.”

Back to normalcy
“You can't let these guys stop us from living,” said Chris Onye of Colerain Township, a Nigeria-born American citizen in his mid-30s. “You just can't stop your life. I think life moves on, we'll have to find a way to do that.”

        Reached at his Washington, D.C.-area home Sunday, retired congressman Lee Hamilton, who used to represent southeast Indiana and now is director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University, said there is victory in the mere pursuit of a return to normal life.

        “You'll see America rising again in the weeks to come,” said Mr. Hamilton. “It's important to pause to reflect but it's also important to keep going.”

        A moment later however, Mr. Hamilton described armed men in camouflage on Washington streets Sunday morning, directing traffic that included armored tanks.

        “We must not hand the terrorists a victory,” he said in predicting a renewed focus on family, church, community and emergency management. “So we have to return to normal. We have to.”

        Bernard Cathey, 51, of Kennedy Heights, grew up in Newark, N.J. — departure point for United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed into the World Trade Center.

        Overlooking a large banner in the Fifth Third headquarters lobby of signed messages in memory of those who died aboard that flight, he was nearly overcome.

        “I think a new patriotism will come along,” said Mr. Cathey, a Cincinnatian since 1977. “I pray for that.”
       Enquirer reporter Randy Tucker contributed.



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