A glimpse of terrorism's effectby Michael Caputo, Minnesota Public Radio
In a tale of how news headlines of 2006 intersected with the lives of Minnesotans, Brooks Doherty of Mounds View talked about being in London's Heathrow Airport last summer, when a foiled terror plot surfaced.
St. Paul, Minn. — Doherty teaches English literature at Rasmussen College In Eden Prairie. For the first part of the year he was finishing his graduate degree overseas, in London.
Doherty recalled how, on a summer day in early August, he was returning to Heathrow Airport from Dublin, Ireland, where he had done some last minute research.
The terror plot had already been discovered and foiled when Doherty was getting ready to board his plane. The Heathrow he saw on television was far different than the one where he landed.
"I was in Dublin. And you see these images of Heathrow on the television in the Dublin airport -- and it's shoulder to shoulder, it's like the Minnesota State Fair," said Doherty. "And I land ... in the arrivals area and Heathrow, the busiest airport in Europe, is completely empty. You could hear a pin drop. There are a few British Airways representatives hanging around, otherwise no one at all."
Doherty said that during his flight to Heathrow, he couldn't help but wonder -- how did we get here?
"It is scary to think that it has to come to this," he said. "Not only being an American citizen abroad but also for everyone involved, especially Londoners, because they've been going through this for 800 years."
His safety was never in question. But Doherty said there was an uneasiness.
"You are immersed in this culture of violence, this feeling of violence," he said. "I wasn't threatened, but you could tell that that emotion was hanging over the air -- and so that was new to me and it really tightens your stomach."
Doherty admits during that day, he thought of the safest place he knew -- Minnesota.
"I wanted to come home, I wanted to come home quickly," he said. "It's home, you know, it's home... and that's all there is to it."
Doherty said his flight was one of the very few that came into Heathrow that day. Most of them came from Ireland. And that relationship between Ireland and England gave him a hopeful thought on a strange day.
"Not even a generation ago, relations between Ireland and England were at an all-time low. That was 20, 30 years ago," Doherty said. "If it has been that bad between Ireland and England, and they've been feuding for a millennium, just a generation after 'The Troubles' they're flying freely when the terror alert level couldn't be any higher, that's very encouraging.
"Hopefully by the time today's children are my age, the same relations or the same progress in relations will be made between America and our current enemies."
- All Things Considered, 12/28/2006, 5:53 p.m.