91/11/2001: The Day That Changed America
What Is Being Done to Keep Americans Safe?
by Sean McCollum
Reprinted from Junior Scholastic, November 12, 2001

This month, fifth graders from Madison, North Carolina, were supposed to be clicking lots of pictures in front of the White House and Lincoln Memorial. But it didn't happen. Parents decided to cancel New Vision Intermediate School's annual class trip to Washington, D.C., after the terrible events of September 11th.

President George W. Bush and other U.S. leaders realize their most important tasks are to make Americans safer and help calm their fears. Officials have stepped up security and detained hundreds of people with suspected terrorist links. Around the clock and around the world, agents and police are investigating leads and have already stopped planned attacks. In the U.S., security forces are on highest alert.

"The task before us [to stop terrorism] is difficult, but not impossible," says Tom Ridge, director of the new Office of Homeland Security. Ridge will coordinate the efforts of 46 different U.S. security and intelligence agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Central Intelligence Agency.

Already, U.S. security is the highest it has been since World War II (1941–1945). The U.S. Coast Guard and Border Patrol have mounted extra patrols to prevent terrorists from slipping into the country. National Guard troops have been stationed around airports, dams, power plants, key bridges, and drinking water sources to intercept trouble. Officials want Americans to be watchful but not scared. "[W]e're counting on each American to help us defend our nation in this war," says U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft.