By KEVIN CHIRI
Slidell news bureau
SLIDELL — Omnipotent. That is the way Slidell businessman John Case viewed the United States before 9/11.
The “Attack on America,” as the 9/11 event is frequently referred to, changed his view of the U.S. in some regards, Case said. But more than anything, it seemed to make him appreciate the freedom in this country we must make certain we protect.
“The attack definitely changed me,” Case said. “It was frightening to think some other people could do what they did to us that day, and I thought we were so powerful we could go find Osama Bin Laden anytime we wanted.”
He still sees an increased level of patriotism in this country, 10 years after the attack, and unlike some critics, doesn’t have any problem with increased levels of security at public events and in airports.
“I am a protector of the Bill of Rights, but I have no problem with increased security at airports ever since 9/11,” he said. “It’s unfortunate we have to do some of those things, but it’s about protecting people and I am most bothered by people who want to complain about our country trying to protect us.”
Case remembers quite vividly the day America was attacked. As a longtime member of the Slidell Rotary Club, it was a Tuesday morning in town, and the day of the week his civic group met.
“We were at the Rotary meeting that morning and I remember we had our district governor speaking. Billy Dabdoub came in and said a plane had hit the Twin Towers. Nobody thought it was anything more than a plane crash at first, so we continued the meeting,” he recalled.
When he left the meeting a little after 9 a.m., he turned on his car radio and heard about the second crash.
“We watched the reports on TV the entire day at the office,” he said. “Nobody really understood what the word ‘terrorist’ was and to this day, I don’t like to use it for those people who did that.”
Case believes there is a lot of discussion needed to decide just what a “terrorist” is. He has a different word to describe the people who engineered the 9/11 attack.
“I call them crackpots, maybe because ‘terrorists’ makes them sound too smart and too organized,” he said. “I consider them to be a bunch of Timothy McVeighs. I mean, how many people do you really have to kill to consider it a ‘War on America?’ I still think that’s dangerous to say that.”
Case remembers the reaction in Slidell, including something he did at his own insurance office in Olde Towne.
“I especially remember a lot of flags all over town,” he said. “I wanted to put a Slidell flag and an American flag up on our building.
“The thing that reminds me how I changed in terms of my patriotism is that I didn’t just want to put flags up, but the protocol to do it the right way was suddenly very important to me,” he said.
Case called Slidell Chief of Staff Reinhard Dearing, who is a history expert, and got the right answers.
“We even got lighting set up for the flags,” Case recalls. “Before 9/11 I was patriotic in that I would stand up for the National Anthem, but there weren’t many other actions to support it.
“After 9/11 I got involved in the Slidell parades, donated money to causes, and even went back to the World War II Museum. It changed me, that was certain,” he added.