Ryan Comer, English, (Broadside Contributor)

America should be thankful: The last war that was fought between her shores echoed only the thundering of charging cavalry, the resounding boom of cannons, and the crackle of musket fire; a desired alternative to the churning of metal tanks, the devastation of thundering artillery, and the screaming of machine gun fire.

For many people in the world, however, these sounds are as common to them as the sounds of rush hour are to you and I. Indeed, even the oldest generation of Europeans remembers the horrific devastation caused by World War II.

However, America, when compared to the rest of the modern world, has been a safe haven. Pearl Harbor, one of the deadliest attacks by a foreign enemy on U.S. soil was, in a sense, isolated. Hawaii was still only a territory when the attack happened, and resting about 2500 miles from the mainland, it was a remote land to most Americans.

However, in 2001, despite it’s history of safety, America’s status quo instantly changed a week after Labor Day. Americans were forced to swallow a grim dose of reality; a reality many countries across the Atlantic Ocean had already acclimated themselves to. Americans were shocked, terrified, outraged, deeply saddened—the list of emotions goes on.

The psychological and emotional effects the Sept. 11 attacks caused haven’t entirely dissipated throughout our country, and perhaps they never will. Americans have, in a sense, picked up and moved on—with a war and stringent new security policies to boot.

Eight years after the attacks, the sense of apprehension and fear that Americans felt has somewhat decreased. We leave our homes, generally confident that we won’t be victims of terrorism. If we were in the Middle East, we probably wouldn’t feel quite so confident. However, it’s that kind of naïve thinking which left us open for the Sept.11 attacks in the first place.

Thankfully, law enforcement hasn’t become complacent. Two would-be terrorists, 19-year-old Jordanian Hosam Maher Husein Smadi and 29-year-old Michael C. Flinton were recently arrested for attempted terrorism in a sting operation according to www.slashingtongue.com.

Perhaps the most disturbing detail in the two cases is that they were both unrelated. Two different men living inside the U.S., two different locations, two different targets—but only one motive: To commit terrorism.

This raises an uncomfortable question: Is our biggest threat no longer guerilla fighters in the Middle East, but our own neighbor? Although two cases hardly indicate a pattern, one can’t help but wonder whether or not they indicate a disturbing trend.

The thought of ordinary people with no Al-Qaeda ties committing terrorist acts against the United States is a sickening possibility.

Do the two recent arrests suggest that we’re moving from the realm of possibility into reality?

Although there may not be any easy or discernable answers, it is an issue that America will have to wrestle with in the coming future.