DENVER – Former astronaut and senator John Glenn spoke in Denver Monday night for the inaugural event of “Bridges to the Future: American History and Values in Light of September 11”, a joint project between CSU and the University of Denver.
Glenn began his speech with his experience in the space program and how its purpose has changed in the past 30 years.
“Before it was a question of ‘can we do it?’ to now improving science with space exploration,” he said.
Glenn then addressed the topic of the night, the attacks on Sept. 11.
Glenn shared with the audience filled with elementary, middle school, high school and college students about his reactions when he first heard of the attacks.
“I thought it was a movie… I was in disbelief that this could happen,” he said.
He compared how Americans reacted to the attacks on Pearl Harbor and the attacks on New York and Washington D.C.
He said when Pearl Harbor happened the reaction of the country was different because America knew whom the enemy was and we knew how to react. When Sept. 11 happened, America was not sure who the enemy was and how the country should strike back.
“This war (on terrorism) will not be a war of front lines and treaties,” he said. “This time, territory is not the objective.”
He also offered his advice on preventing terrorism.
“The American intelligent agencies need to work together better and America needs to rely more on human sources when it comes to the war on terrorism,” he said. “Prevention must be our goal in the war on terrorism.”
He said prevention, as opposed to retaliation or bringing to justice those responsible for the attacks must be the goal. “It makes little difference to a terrorist if he is brought to justice after he already committed his act if he is already willing to die,” he said.
Glenn also addressed what, in his opinion, is the most important question facing the country right now – should we go to war with Iraq and Saddam Hussein?
He said pushing a decision on whether or not we should send in U.S. forces to remove Hussein from power before the congress goes on election vacation on Oct. 11 is a mistake. He wants to see congress debate this issue more than any other issue in the past few years.
He addressed issues the country might face if it does decide to rid Hussein of power.
“What if we do take over the country?” he asks. “Do we run it and (for) how long?”
Glenn also asked if America was ready to support the war.
“We can’t run this war on cheap,” he said.
Glenn said he does not want this war to be a debt another generation will have to pay off. $30 billion was his figure on how much the war on terrorism will cost America.
Along with Glenn, Colorado Governor Bill Owens was on hand to discuss how America and its values have changed and evolved one year after Sept. 11.
“Not only have our values endured 9-11 but they have thrived,” Owens said in his speech. “We are secure in the values that make us Americans.”
During his speech, Owens said Americans should think about the brave citizens who have become keepers of our freedom.
Before Owens and Glenn, Yates spoke about the goals he had for “Bridges to the Future”.
He said he hopes that the program will spark a statewide debate about what it means to be an American and discuss the social responsibility of restoring hope about the shape of tomorrow.
Chancellor Ritchie spoke about why CSU and DU took on the challenge of addressing the issues of Sept. 11 and the aftermath of the attacks.
“It’s unusual and unheard of, for a private university and a land-grant university to work together (in this manner),” he said. “We asked ourselves, ‘If not us, then who?'”