Heroes prevented a terrorist tragedy

On a day of peace, we Americans were reminded again — in a very direct way — that we remain a nation at war.

        The 23-year-old Nigerian who apparently tried to bring down a passenger jet bound for Detroit served notice that the next decade is likely to provide the same threat of terrorism that cloaked these last 10 years.

        The al Qaida-led extremist assault did not begin with the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on American soil, nor did it end that day. Homeland security officials, we are told, continue to intercept news of other terrorist plots, while attacks have been carried out successfully in Europe and on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan.

        The encouraging sign from Friday’s incident is that people have not been chastened by this decade of terror. In fact, several passengers and flight attendants acted heroically on Northwest Flight 253, tackling the would-be killer and dousing his attempt to ignite an explosive with bottled water.

        Already, many are questioning how this man — whose name appeared on one government watch list — was allowed onto this flight. We hope that government officials and politicians can explore that question without political posturing.

        Their goal must still be to sew a security blanket that protects our safety but respects personal freedom. That is no simple balancing act.

        In the meantime, we should salute the efforts of these people on the Michigan-bound flight who helped avert tragedy. As the struggle with terrorism continues, we must believe that we all are capable of such bravery.