In June of 1985, my parents came to visit us in Berlin, Germany, where my ex husband was stationed at the Tempelhof AFB. Mom and Dad had to change planes in Frankfurt before reaching their final destination. The airport in Frankfurt had been bombed two days before their arrival. The Arab Revolutionary Organization claimed credit. Needless to say, my parents arrived in Europe very shaken and asking if they had to go through Frankfurt to go home. (Yes.)
Before my parents came, they had asked us to look into cruises. The Achille Lauro looked great. My parents declined. The Achille Lauro was hijacked in October 1985 by four men representing the Palestine Liberation Front. The hijacking was eventually foiled, but not before the hijackers killed 69 year old Leon Klinghofer, a wheel chair bound Jewish-American.
We enjoyed a month of travel with my parents. We spend a week in the Netherlands, staying in a small North Sea shore town, we traveled to Amsterdam and Delft. We drove through Belgium back to Germany and stayed in a castle on the Rhine. From Frankfurt we took a high speed train to The City of Lights, Paris. The Folies Bergere was evening entertainment, and the next day, during site-seeing, my ex's pocket was picked. Before our return to Berlin, we enjoyed a view of the Alps and great German food in a small Bavarian town.
My parents were more than happy when they got back home to the good ole US of A.
The next year, in April, our family was returning from a spring vacation in Amsterdam. As we arrived at the Frankfurt train station to catch the American train to Berlin, we were unnerved by the significant increase in security. Soon we learned the reason: the bombing the day before of a Berlin disco frequented by American service men. There were 230 injured, 40 were Americans. The bomb killed four Americans. The bombing was carried out by Gaddafi's secret service.
My children returned to schools surrounded by soldiers armed with automatic weapons. School busses were lead by and followed by machine gun mounted jeeps. Their schools received several bomb threats soon thereafter.
Not long after this April bombing, my ex and I were awakened early one morning by the sound of gunfire - close. My ex, a Marine veteran of Viet Nam and then an Air Force sergeant, knew about guns. "Automatic," he said. "Like M-16s... somewhere behind the high school." We could see the high school, across the street from our fourth floor apartment, through our bedroom window.
The next morning, first thing at work, I grabbed the police blotter. The night before, the US Army tank headquarters, located a stone's throw from the back of the high school, was attacked by un-named terrorists, but the Red Army Faction was suspected. This information was never released to the public.
I feared for my children's safety. I wanted to gathered up my three boys and fly home to safety. No one should grow up in that kind of world. But, upon request, we were denied permission.
Three months before the end of my ex's tour - August 1987 - as soon as my three boys finished school, we were on a plane HOME.
But not before one last taste of terrorism. The 1980's had more than its share of hijackings: 25 in all. As we sat in our seats, dying for take-off, the pilot announced, "Sorry, folks, but take-off will be delayed by at least 30 minutes. We've found some unidentified luggage that needs to be matched to one of our passengers." I thought, "Ahhh shit!"
Everything turned out OK, but the late take-off, made us miss our New York connection to New Orleans where my parents were waiting to take us home to Alexandria.
When we finally made it, three days late, I literally kissed the safe Louisiana ground.
And then there was Oklahoma, 9/11. And now, ISIS.
Truth be told, ain't no place 100% safe. Truth be told, since ISIS/DAESH came into our consciousness, they have killed thousands of human beings. Four of these were American.
Between 2003 and 2013, Americans killed 346,681 other Americans with guns. In the same 10 years, 312 Americans were killed by terrorists' attacks.
Terrorists and terrorism produces gut-wrenching fear. However, we perhaps need fear our American neighbors more.
Miss Althea, you have a good week.