EDITORIAL: Vigilance — the new normal

York Dispatch

Despite the best efforts of terrorists around the globe, Americans this past weekend carried on with plans to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday and, for the most part, did not allow fear to deter them.

Some 42 million Americans traveled to see friends and family. A larger than usual crowd of 3.5 million attended the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City — and the same number took to the skies, choosing air travel as a means to bring their families together.

In this Nov. 25, 2015 file photo, Amtrak passengers walk to their gates in New York's Pennsylvania Station. According to AAA, 42 million travelled somewhere to celebrate Thanksgiving. Tens of millions of Americans returning home after the long Thanksgiving holiday weekend Sunday have cooperative weather and mostly efficient airport operations to thank for smooth traveling conditions.(AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

Closer to home, police officers were conspicuous on platforms at the Amtrak train station in Harrisburg as trains arrived and departed.

Many of those interviewed prior to the Thanksgiving weekend echoed the same sentiment: If we don’t carry on with our lives, then the fear and hatred propagated by terrorist groups wins.

And we can’t let that happen.

“One thing I always say,” New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio said in a news conference in which he assured tourists the city would be safe to visit, “there are some people trying to intimidate New Yorkers. Well, New Yorkers don’t get intimidated.”

New Yorkers and all Americans — and people around the globe — have a new world to contend with. Homegrown terrorist cells and those with extremist and hate-filled agendas try to tap into our most basic human fears of survival.

Those fears are about our personal safety in malls, stadiums — even in cafés.

Of course, it doesn’t help to ease those fears when the FBI releases a bulletin about “copycat” terrorist acts in the wake of the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, which killed 130 and injured more than 300 earlier this month. And it doesn't help when a travel advisory is issued by the U.S. State Department.

But these recent announcements are part of that new world — a new normal in which vigilance is a part of the equation. If we are going on a honeymoon or a holiday, we can be excited and anticipatory, but we must also be vigilant.

New York has a campaign called “See Something, Say Something” meant to keep people alert to odd behavior or unattended luggage as they travel. So in the airport or train station now, as we say our hellos and goodbyes, we are constantly aware of the stepped-up security that is a part of the travel bargain in 2015.

As public service announcements play in the background, Americans keep on traveling — more aware now than ever that we have this new normal. The vigilance that goes along with our holiday or other celebratory travel excitement is a part of our lives and likely will be so from now on. We can’t be naive.

But we also can’t be running scared.

In this post-9/11 world, we are more acutely aware of the preciousness of life. That day reminded us of how incredibly valuable and fleeting it can be.

All the more reason to live it to the fullest and not to allow extremist groups full of hatred to deter us from doing so. Just as we did this past weekend.