Fast Focus: Will you change your behavior because of the Boston bombings? Be aware and live life

April 28, 2013 

In short, no I won't change my behavior at all.

I've been lucky to have lived all over the world both as a child and as an adult. My father served in the Navy for 20 years and took our family all over the world during that time in the 60s and 70s. In Sicily, we were warned about the Mafia. In Puerto Rico, there were the bad areas of San Juan near Roosevelt Road. When my dad retired, he took a contractor job with Bendix where he worked at the Communications Station at Europe's southernmost listening post in Bad Aibling just 60 kilometers south of Munich. At the time, I was a 15 year-old 9th grader attending the Department of Defense Munich American High School.

Life is different overseas and in Europe especially. In Munich, we had the left-wing militant group, Baader Meinhof Gang, later known at the Red Army Faction. I can remember vividly sitting with school friends a couple of beer tents away from the bomb blast at the main entrance of the Munich Oktoberfest in the late evening in September 1980. Thirteen people died and hundreds were injured that night. Then add to that the crisis in 1983 when Russia claimed that the U.S. had launched a nuclear missile. The base personnel were on pins and needles and tense just doesn't describe the atmosphere that week. It all ended as a false alarm, but the evacuation drills my family participated in were very real.

However, even with these experiences and after watching the dramatic and often overplayed footage of the Boston bombings and the eventual capture of the remaining suspect, I don't think I will change anything about my behavior. Why? Because I grew up knowing that bad things do happen. And when it comes to someone wanting to blow you up, or take down a building, there is only so much we as people can do to mitigate it.

I grew up with a sense of knowing who was around me at all times. I knew where I was going and I was taught to always raise a concern if I saw something unusual or out of place. It was a way of life for many of us living and working overseas.

After school, I ended up working as a public affairs specialist for the European headquarters of the Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES-Europe). AAFES-Europe ran the PX and BX operations for 11 countries within Europe. AAFES-Europe provided the "home away from home" products and services to military members and their families. We were there during the Kuwait invasion providing these services and products, and we were there for all Desert Storm engagements, and during the Bosnian-Serbian war setting up distribution warehouses to receive the goods that eventually would be sent to base camps.

Americans need to realize that we can be a target as easily as those over in Europe and elsewhere. For too long, Americans have lived their lives reading and watching about terrorism and mayhem thinking that it will never happen here. Well, it has and it will continue. The best thing we can do as citizens is to be aware and to make a habit of reporting things our guts tell us is wrong or not right.

The one thing I learned well while living overseas was that you cannot let fear rule your life. That is what terrorists want from you. You can thwart them by living your life to the fullest while also being fully aware of your surroundings and not afraid to report something you find suspicious. You may even be the one who ends up saving lives by doing so.


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