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Tuesday, 18 September, 2001, 12:12 GMT 13:12 UK
An eye for an eye
Union square
Messages of peace cover Union Square in New York
Ryan Dilley

As Americans struggle to comprehend the tragedy which befell their country last week, some fear a desire for revenge has gripped the nation.

An "America Needs You!" poster fills the front window of the nation's best known Army recruitment office.

Army recruitment office
Wannabe military recruits queue in New York
Uncle Sam's pointing finger rests on every pedestrian dashing past the building, stranded on a traffic island amid the fumes and honking car horns of Times Square.

Every seat in the office is taken as young people frantically complete enlistment forms. Since Tuesday's terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, New Yorkers have been flocking to join up says a recruiter.

Chris Dollen has rushed in during his break from waiting at a nearby restaurant.


America will seek revenge for what possibly was a revenge attack itself - where will it stop?

Melissa Jameson
"There's a definite sense that I want to see action and get revenge. I want to wipe out anybody who feels they can do to our country what was done last week."

Jose Mendoza ducks out of the office to buy a soda. With his back-to-front baseball cap and baggy jeans he looks more West Coast rap than West Point.

"I'm really upset with those Arabs - or those terrorists, I should say. If there's action, I want to be there."

Stars and stripes bell outside office
The bell bears the message "Vengeance!"
A makeshift memorial to the dead of the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks has sprouted around the office's flagpole. Amongst the candles, ribbons and now ubiquitous missing posters is a stars and stripes decorated bell. "Vengeance!" is written across it in thick pen.

His 43 years mean former Marine sergeant Kevin Dowling is turned away at the door, despite a protestation that he is in better shape than ever before. His biceps - the left one carrying a USMC tattoo - tense as he steps back into the street.

Former Marine holds his military ID
Turned away: Former Marine Kevin Dowling
For the soldier turned actor, vengeance is something sought by those "who have never seen anything to do with war".

Mr Dowling is not without anger though. He witnessed the first aeroplane strike the WTC, was evacuated from his downtown apartment and had his upcoming play cancelled because the author's father died in the aircraft which crashed in Washington.

List of the dead with toy guns strung next to it
The death toll slowly rises as bodies are recovered
"I'm homeless, jobless and furious. I'm not a fireman or a cop, I'm a Marine. My way to mourn is to go in with the first wave."

Sergeant First Class Boyd, recruiter at the Army's office on Harlem's 125th Street, says rage is not something he looks for in a would-be soldier.

"We want our people to be patriotic, but being angry right now is no reason to join up. We are looking for commitment."

Young hotheads would be wise to avoid Sergeant Boyd, who bristles with military efficiency.

Hope for peace

That includes the person who has made the job of finding the New York offices of the pacifist War Registers League more difficult.

Union Square
Peace vigils have been held across the country
"Someone broke the thick plastic sign off our door the other night," says the group's Melissa Jameson. "We're going to replace it with a big banner saying: 'An eye for an eye leaves everyone blind'."

Ms Jackson says she and her staff watched the twin towers collapse from the office roof. "No-one has been unaffected by this. We all know people there. We all mourn the loss of life."

At a desk littered with pamphlets and pictures of Gandhi, Ms Jameson says her greatest fear is that, "America will seek revenge for what possibly was a revenge attack itself. Where will it stop?"

'Evil is easy to do'

Across the room, beside the office's sleeping ginger cat, student Asif Ula says that, "instead of thinking over revenge, people should think whether they want to put other people through such suffering as well".

Broken rifles emblem
The league's badge with broken rifles
At the street door, Louis Nunues proudly wears a badge showing the league's broken rifle emblem. "We need to fight against more death and destruction. Evil is easy to do, good something you have to work at."

Some at the league find it hard to remain optimistic about challenging their country's taste for military solutions.

They admit to taking some solace in the actions of those who have gathered each day this week at Union Square, near New York University.

Washington statue with peace graffiti
From war memorial to peace shrine
Messages pinned to the fences of the park and chalked on the pavement call for unity, peace and above all love.

The statue of George Washington riding into battle, which dominates the square, bears the marks of this well-meaning graffiti. The first president's horse carries a ban the bomb symbol on its hindquarters.

A black limo comes barrelling past those visiting the shrine and a triangle of cross-legged men meditating.

"Bushwhack the Bastards" in white paint obliterates the car's rear window.

Limo with Bushwhack the bastards written in the window
Feelings of grief and anger run high in New York
Links to more Americas stories are at the foot of the page.


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