Today’s news:

Boro watches war unfold with pride, apprehension

As American and British forces surged into Iraq this week, an intense security net descended across the borough of Queens.

Vehicles were once again subject to spot checks at bridges and tunnels, police patrols were stepped up at sensitive locations and everyone from MTA personnel to elementary school students reviewed what to do in the event of a terrorist attack.

In houses of worship across the borough, reactions were varied, as Hindus and Sikhs took steps to prevent the kind of misdirected bias attacks they endured after Sept. 11. Iraqis asserted their support for the war, while Afghans decried what they saw as the Bush administration’s broken promises in their native land.

On the streets, those who oppose the war continued to protest, while the borough’s firehouses remained bastions of unwavering support.

Police fanned out across Queens, guarding religious institutions, bridges and tunnels, public landmarks and stadiums as part of Operation Atlas, New York City’s security plan. Specialized teams trained in dealing with weapons of mass destruction stood ready to respond to terrorist attacks.

Queens schools practiced emergency drills, while the chancellor sent letters to parents and teachers telling them how to soothe children’s anxieties.

Underground, transit employees took emergency response classes and some were issued gas masks. Federal, state and local law enforcement officers — some with radiation-detection equipment— patrolled subways and commuter rail trains.

At the two airports, travelers were largely undeterred by heightened security, which included National Guard patrols, bomb-sniffing dogs and explosive-screening machines.

And as news of prisoners of war and casualties continued to arrive, Queens parents, husbands, wives and children followed the lonely ritual of watching and waiting.

Reach reporter Alex Ginsberg by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 157.

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