On Sept. 11, 2001, there was reason everywhere in the U.S. to be worried about what was going on, but especially in places like Harford County. The highway and rail lines that link Washington and New York pass right through the county, and Harford is home to a military installation with an international reputation.
In the dark days after the terror attacks, another sinister effort was undertaken that resulted in weapons grade anthrax being mailed to high profile addressees, with deadly results for some unfortunate victims. For a time early in the investigation, it seemed the event could have had a local link as Aberdeen Proving Ground is a chemical and biological weapons research center. The investigation would eventually focus on another facility farther to the west, but still in Maryland, Fort Detrick.
Then on Monday, a beautiful late summer day when the air was crisp and the Maryland sky a bright blue, came news that the Washington Navy Yard was under attack. It would turn out that a former member of the armed forces had made his way into the facility in the nation's capital and killed 12 people before he was killed.
To date, the links aren't as ominous locally as those that were worth pondering on and after Sept. 11, 2011, but Harford County is very much a community with a strong military element. Anyone who has visited APG in the past dozen years knows getting on post can be a tedious process. Moreover, plenty of people who live in Harford County commute to jobs at Defense Department installations throughout the region. It is well known among these people, as well as their families and friends, that security on defense installations is pretty tight.
It seems almost unbelievable that an armed man, even with proper ID, could make it into a military building and bring about yet another tragedy.
Is there a way to prevent such things? That's probably a question for another day, and certainly one that needs a lot of attention over many weeks and months.
In the aftermath of a tragedy that hits so close to home, in terms of distance and community, now is a good time for prayer or solemn reflection.
There will be time later for figuring what went wrong.