2 May 2014
Today’s Events in Historical Perspective
America’s Longest-Running Column, Founded 1932
By Douglas Cohn and Eleanor Clift
WASHINGTON – “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty,” a phrase said or written in various forms by numerous people in the 18th and 19th centuries, should today also stand in altered form as, “Eternal vigilance is the price of safety.” Two wonderful stories confirm the point and tell us much more.
Are you one of the sheep or are you a hero? Chelsie Shellas is a hero in Wacsea, Minn. Bettye Windom and her sister Beth Insley are heroes in Port Gibson, Miss. Had they been among the sheep, today we would be grieving over two preventable tragedies. Only their vigilance saved the day.
Chelsie happened to notice a 17-year-old crossing her yard in a suspicious manner and she quickly called 911. Almost as quickly, police arrived and found John David LaDue in a storage unit filled with weapons, explosives, and plans. He was going to kill his parents and an unknown number of students and teachers at his high school in an apparent attempt to emulate the infamous 1999 high school massacre in Columbine, Colo. Only Chelsie’s vigilance stopped him.
Bettye and Beth were driving behind a school bus on Highway 28 in Copiah County, Minn., when they noticed smoke, but no flames, beginning to billow from beneath the bus. They honked, flashed their lights, and finally sped in front of the bus and braked to a stop. Neither the bus driver nor the three chaperones or 22 students on board were aware there was a problem. But Bettye and Beth, both vigilant and persistent warned them and scurried them to safety, just moments before the bus exploded in flames.
There have always been terrorists, disgruntled teenagers, and mentally disturbed people, but today they have automatic weapons, sophisticated explosives, and electronic devices capable of detonating them. With their ability to create mayhem and mass casualties, the world is becoming increasingly dangerous, which means our old manner of daily living, relying upon police and a few safety-conscious people for protection, is no longer enough. Today, these problems are everyone’s problems.
We are already warned by authorities to be mindful of suspicious behavior in airports, but how many people are equally mindful of their own backyards as Chelsie was or of a school bus on a street billowing a little smoke as Bettye and Beth were? The fact is that people from all walks of life need to adjust their thinking. Teachers need to watch for the disenchanted loners. Office workers need to be cognizant of the disgruntled people among them. We can no longer walk down the sidewalk or drive down the street blissfully unaware of our surroundings. Had Chelsea, Bettye, and Beth done so, dozens of young lives would have been lost.
And we must remember that the best anti-terrorist, anti-crime tool we have is the cellphone. Almost everyone has 911 in their grasp, and no one has the luxury of noninvolvement. We are all involved.
© 2014 U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.
Distributed by U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.
END WASHINGTON MERRY-GO-ROUND