MOULTRIE -- Teen-agers are living history now whether they know it or not.
Walking through their turf at Colquitt County High School, The Observer wanted to get their take on one of the biggest reality checks the U.S. has had in a hundred years.
Sixteen-year-old junior Carolyn Ogarto moved to the U.S. from the island of Saipan to live with her aunt and to pursue an American education one month before the 9/11 attacks one year ago. The strike knocked her aspirations back a bit, she said, especially when her cousin, who had left Virginia to go back to Micronesia just before the terrorists struck, called Ogarto wanting her to come home.
"I kind of thought about going back home, but I was like, well, I chose to come here to help the family, so I'll just stay here and try to help out everybody," she said.
The jolt of the twin towers collapsing upon themselves and the slap in the face of the suicide crash into the fortress of the Pentagon have awakened national pride in some of the county's younger citizens.
Owen Lamb, 17, a senior, has signed on with the Marines.
"I always wanted to, but after this it affected me to where I wanted to -- it's not really revenge, but, you know, I want to help my country -- be one of the ones to serve for the cause," Lamb said. "Maybe a little payback is in that too."
"I realize how short life is now, how everything can happen in a split second. I want to do something good in my life -- join the Marines and maybe kick some butt someday."
Joanna Lee, 18, graduates high school in December. Since 9/11, she committed her first years of adulthood to the Navy. Lee said she was not surprised by 9/11, which she called a "horrible disaster," and is not intimidated by the violence directed at innocent civilians
"I think I could make a change. If other people can make a change, I can make a change. If they were to go to war, I would consider going to war for my country," Lee said.
Senior Clint Proctor, 17, wants to fight for his country also, he said. He hopes his diabetes won't hinder his chances.
Proctor embraces the good that has come out of tragedy.
"I think it's better for us spiritually. We're into the colors more and kind of respect our nation more than we did prior to 9/11. It's made me more into our country. I've always respected our country, but it's made me more patriotic," he said.
Freshman Melody Jordan, 14, sees that change for the better in people since the attacks also, and that for her is a silver lining.
"I think it happened for a reason, so we can all get united. I think it was for the better, maybe, even though it was really sad that it happened because a lot of people died," she said.
"I hope this will teach people about treating other people with respect and treating people nicer and with love. It's what they need in this world. When people treat you the wrong way, and nobody gives you love, that does affect how you're going to be," said senior Amanda McMullen, 17.
Anna Martinez, 14, ninth grade, feels sorrow for those lost in the strikes.
"Too many people died in New York," she said, adding that she hopes Americans will remain united. In this year, Martinez has thought about the attacks often and has felt more vulnerable.
"I'm not scared, but I'm mad at the terrorists," she said.
Austin Dean, 18, a senior, also expressed anger towards the al-Qaida, saying disgustedly, "I think it's B.S. that they did that -- I mean attacking somebody for nothing."
Some say the horror has changed their whole life.
Tenth-grader Terri Davis, 16, said she now prays for peace and prays for those already hurt personally by the terrorists.
"I hope it doesn't happen again," Davis said.
Junior Kara Willoughby, 17, said it changed everything and fears that another attack is looming but that America is more prepared and can stave off another attack.
Still, others aren't impacted at all, they say.
"I got numb after a while -- sick of seeing it. I mean, you felt bad, but you don't just keep on thinking about it. A lot of people dying and junk, you just don't want t
o think about it that much. It'll make you crazy if you keep thinking about it," 12th-grader Fred Miller, 17, said.
Ninth-grader Donald Green, 14, doesn't think about the attacks very much, he said, and he has not been much affected by them.
"It was mean what they did, though," Green said. "It could happen again, but I don't think about it."
Rocky Robinson, 17, junior, said 9/11 has not affected him at all, but he does think about the possibility of another attack.
"I ain't even coming to school tomorrow. I feel like they're going to hit again," he said.
That fear of uncertainty (the terrorists' ambition) has seeped into some young people's thoughts.
"I feel scared really, because they haven't caught the person who did it, and I feel like he's going to do it again," sophomore Marie Green, 15, said.
Green's friend Tiffany Lovett, 14, ninth grade envisions biological strikes against Americans, particularly in the food supply. She says she has since become more cautious.
Sha Wetherington, 14, freshman, is comforted by the increase in national security efforts, but she recounted a summer trip on an airplane when she caught herself sizing up the other passengers for possible terrorists.
"I was trying not to think about it too much, but you know ...," she said.
Freshman Eric Winnard, 15, is flying alone to Dallas, Texas, today for a diving competition. He didn't plan it that way, but that's just the way it worked out, because he didn't want to miss much school.
Besides, he cracked, it's the safest day of the year to fly.
Winnard, not impressed by airport security on a flight he took earlier in the year, said he would favor more steps for security generally in exchange for a bit of his Constitutional freedom. It weighs on his mind sometimes, he said.
"I have given it a lot of thought," he said. "It makes me feel more insecure. Everybody's talking about war more often, how these things can happen and about the issues about Saddam Hussein."
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