GW promotional materials tout the University’s geographical proximity to the centers of American power – located five blocks from the White House, three blocks from the State Department, a short walk to Embassy Row.
But after the launch of U.S. missiles against purported terrorist facilities in Sudan and Afghanistan, Osama bin Laden – newly designated Public Enemy No. 1 – promised more terrorist attacks on U.S. targets would follow. For D.C. residents, GW students included, the threats are an unnerving reminder of the scary reality of life in the nation’s capital.
Students who arrived en masse this weekend to move into their apartments and residence halls saw new additions to D.C. landmarks. Newly-erected concrete barriers encircling the Washington Monument and visibly increased security around the White House and other federal property might have given some visitors the impression of a city under siege.
Even students moving back to campus saw the effects of heightened security. Uniformed Secret Service agents made an appearance at several of the residence halls, where students stacked boxes and crates on the sidewalks – quite a “welcome back” for GW students.
Some GW students may feel uneasy visiting the national monuments in the near future. Others vow not to let terrorists’ rhetoric interfere with their lives. Regardless of which outlook is more rational, the irony of the GW motto “Something Happens Here” isn’t lost – let’s just hope when it comes to terror attacks, nothing happens here.