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`IT'LL BE A LONG TIME BEFORE WE FEEL SAFE AGAIN'

This was what Jan Smith, a 44-year-old postal worker from Independence, Mo., had to say after the bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City: "I feel invaded. I feel like the sanctity of the United States was just totally raped."

And in the little town where one of the suspects in the bombing was arrested, this is how nursing supervisor Donna Smith reflected on the week's lessons:"We thought we were safe. We're not even safe in our little town of Perry, Oklahoma. We haven't felt safe since it happened. I think it'll be a long time before we feel safe again."

This was the week Americans learned no place is safe.

Before, terrorism was something that always happened over there. THEY did it, not us.

When terrorists bombed the World Trade Center in 1993, they were, predictably, from over there, and they brought their troubles to the one place in America that seemed almost foreign to many Americans.

Now everyone knows differently. Everyone knows that terrorism can be as American as Oklahoma City - as American, apparently, as Junction City, Kan., or the Lower Peninsula of Michigan.

It is too early to say what the ultimate fallout from the Oklahoma City bombing will be, but the consensus among terrorism experts, psychologists and others is that it has struck a deep blow to the American psyche.

It was in the heartland.

Many of its victims were children.

It appears to have been the work of Americans.

For all of those reasons, it seems to have touched a nerve that the World Trade Center bombing in New York never reached.

"It's like Oklahoma City is home," said Irene Landsman, a psychologist in Washington, "and New York is kind of a foreign place where people are in the fast lane all the time and deal with dangerous situations all the time, and people like us don't go there."

"What this shows is that anything can happen, and even when what's at stake is what's most precious to us, you still can lose it instantly."

Tough words. But as many people will say, Americans are probably a little tougher now than they were a week ago.

Donna Gregory describes herself as the most liberal person in Oklahoma, and says she is an adamant foe of capital punishment.

On Friday night, she took her nephew, Ricky Don Kesinger, to see the Oklahoma City 89ers play a minor-league baseball game against the Iowa Cubs. As she watched, she talked about the bombing. And what she said may have surprised even her.

"I truly believe there should be a public hanging in front of the building," she said. "I'm ashamed of that opinion, but I truly feel that way."

She recalled driving to the game that evening with Ricky Don, who is 10. He had watched television news of the bombing the day before, but now he asked her to turn off the news on her car radio.

"I asked why," Gregory said. "He said, `One day is enough. I don't want to be sad anymore.' I said, `Sweetie, we're going to be sad for a long time.' "