Northern Virginians alert, but unafraid – Potomac News Online

Despite their proximity to the Pentagon attack, Northern Virginians polled did not indicate any more fear than the rest of the state — and in fact are more trusting of people.

Thirty-two percent of local respondents said they are more fearful as a result of Sept. 11. Twenty-four percent indicated a distrust of people, compared with 36 percent of statewide respondents.

The News and Messenger/Media General poll indicated high marks for President Bush. Sixty-seven percent rated his security efforts against future terrorist attacks as excellent or good, and 63 percent liked the job he is doing.

Few people have changed how they go about their lives. Nine percent locally said they have taken precautions at home and only six percent said it increased their church attendance.

“I don’t think I’m a virgin anymore. I don’t think the absolute security that I felt is there,” said Fairfax City retiree Ron Stultz.

He said the terrorists attacked major landmarks, but thankfully not smaller targets all over the country.

“If they attacked at the mall, the markets and the Pizza Huts, if they started doing that, it would be really frightening,” Stultz said.

When he visits his son in New York City, Stultz said, he does not use the subway system because it is an easy target for a chemical attack.

Stultz said homeland security is good, but there is no way to have 100 percent security. Terrorists come from impoverished countries and it is impossible to wipe them out.

“It’s our attempt to wipe out some sort of disease. I’m not sure you can or ever will.”

Northern Virginians showed more tolerance of Middle Eastern culture than others in the commonwealth.

One question in the poll asked Virginians how they would react if a man of Middle Eastern descent moved in next door. Eight percent of respondents statewide said they would be “very apprehensive,” 40 percent said “somewhat apprehensive,” and 52 percent said not at all.

Northern Virginians said 30 percent somewhat apprehensive and 70 percent not at all.

Gail Reggio, a stay-at-home mother in Alexandria, said the region has a more diverse community than other parts of the country.

“I didn’t want to raise my kids in a white-bread area,” she said, and so they do not look at other races differently.

She said she is not under any stress, but the attack is “always in the back of my mind.”

She lives close to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in a military area. She said she kept her windows closed last year but now she opens them.

She sees the military in a different light.

“People weren’t able to reach their spouses … It gave us a different perspective on the military,” she said. “I used to think of the military as working far away but in the case of the Pentagon, they were working on the front lines, they just didn’t know it.”

She will be going about her normal routine on the anniversary this week, not watching the TV specials.

“At this point in my life, I can’t watch it anymore. I feel like I’ve been inundated,” she said.

Nearly 60 percent of local respondents said they think airline security is not adequate.

“Nine-11 initially, it made me goosey traveling,” said Rick Nolan of Falls Church, who travels a lot to Atlanta. “But after the first flight in October, that went away. I still don’t think airline security is much better than it was before.”

He cited airline policy to check the name of the ticket against identification at each step of going through an airport. He asked, how would that stop a terrorist since the 9-11 perpetrators all had tickets?

“I’m not sure what the appearance of more security has done for us,” he said.

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