Student Outlook -- Gracie R. Kazer

As the holiday season passes us by, one can't help but notice the

change of tone it presented in comparison to the past. The terrorist

attacks Sept. 11 and the events following it, including numerous anthrax

scares and the dispatch of U.S. militia, has altered the states of mind

of most of the country, as well as the world. To indulge in festivities

and celebrate the holidays as enthusiastically as before seemed

unthinkable, when life as we know it has been changed forever.

Christmas, as well as Hanukkah and most other well-known winter

holidays, has always been characterized by extending kindness and being

thankful for what one has. This past season was the same to a greater

extent, along with a solemn, laid-back mood created by the mix of sorrow

and confusion.

With such a huge wall of emotions hanging over the holidays, things

are bound to be different. However, going along with the government's

hope of a "return to normalcy" is in reality among the best things anyone

can do. The holidays are a time of year when everyone should make a

genuine effort to be grateful for what they have been given and behave

with outmost respect toward peers.

While the majority of the population is not centralized in New York or

Washington, D.C., there is not one person who does not feel some effects

of what happened on Sept 11. Although the events of this year have

created a number of horrific tragedies, they have also proven that the

people of this country and around the world are capable of coming

together in time of need, and that they are able to gain something in a

time full of so much loss. Arguably the worst part of the disaster is the

fact that our country and our government most likely could have done very

little to prevent it and, likewise, we cannot do anything to change the

results. Patriotism and community have gained new levels of importance in

the past several months, and during the holidays they remained a

significant source of both remembrance and celebration.

2001 was a trying year for the United States, as well as the human

race in general. While many questions remain unanswered, the strength in

our country and the strength that we have in ourselves as people will

pull us through and continue to push us through another year of

uncertainty. The best thing that anyone can do right now is to focus on

how fortunate he or she is, no matter what the situation may be. Another

wonderful thing to do is to volunteer. This year many people are in need

of help and just as many have the desire to give it.

By making an effort to maintain faith in humanity and by practicing

extending ourselves to others, we can make this post-Sept. 11 year as

special and memorable as it should be.

* GRACIE R. KAZER is a Corona del Mar High School senior whose columns

will appear on an occasional basis in the Community Forum section.

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