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FW: We'll go forward from this moment
From: "Stafford, Todd" <Todd.Stafford () wwireless com>
Date: Fri, 14 Sep 2001 09:16:35 -0700

-----Original Message-----

It's my job to have something to say.

They pay me to provide words that help make sense of that which 
troubles the American soul. But in this moment of airless shock when 
hot tears sting disbelieving eyes, the only thing I can find to say, 
the only words that seem to fit, must be addressed to the unknown 
author of this suffering.

You monster. You beast. You unspeakable bastard.

What lesson did you hope to teach us by your coward's attack on our 
World Trade Center, our Pentagon, us? What was it you hoped we would 
learn? Whatever it was, please know that you failed.

Did you want us to respect your cause? You just damned your cause.

Did you want to make us fear? You just steeled our resolve.

Did you want to tear us apart? You just brought us together.

Let me tell you about my people. We are a vast and quarrelsome 
family, a family rent by racial, social, political and class 
division, but a family nonetheless. We're frivolous, yes, capable of 
expending tremendous emotional energy on pop cultural minutiae -- a 
singer's revealing dress, a ball team's misfortune, a cartoon mouse. 
We're wealthy, too, spoiled by the ready availability of trinkets 
and material goods, and maybe because of that, we walk through life 
with a certain sense of blithe entitlement. We are fundamentally 
decent, though -- peace-loving and compassionate. We struggle to 
know the right thing and to do it. And we are, the overwhelming 
majority of us, people of faith, believers in a just and loving God.

Some people -- you, perhaps -- think that any or all of this makes 
us weak. You're mistaken. We are not weak. Indeed, we are strong in 
ways that cannot be measured by arsenals.


Yes, we're in pain now. We are in mourning and we are in shock. 
We're still grappling with the unreality of the awful thing you did, 
still working to make ourselves understand that this isn't a special 
effect from some Hollywood blockbuster, isn't the plot development 
from a Tom Clancy novel. Both in terms of the awful scope of their 
ambition and the probable final death toll, your attacks are likely 
to go down as the worst acts of terrorism in the history of the 
United States and, probably, the history of the world. You've 
bloodied us as we have never been bloodied before.

But there's a gulf of difference between making us bloody and making 
us fall. This is the lesson Japan was taught to its bitter sorrow 
the last time anyone hit us this hard, the last time anyone brought 
us such abrupt and monumental pain. When roused, we are righteous in 
our outrage, terrible in our force. When provoked by this level of 
barbarism, we will bear any suffering, pay any cost, go to any 
length, in the pursuit of justice.

I tell you this without fear of contradiction. I know my people, as 
you, I think, do not. What I know reassures me. It also causes me to 
tremble with dread of the future.

In the days to come, there will be recrimination and accusation, 
fingers pointing to determine whose failure allowed this to happen 
and what can be done to prevent it from happening again. There will 
be heightened security, misguided talk of revoking basic freedoms. 
We'll go forward from this moment sobered, chastened, sad. But 
determined, too. Unimaginably determined.


You see, the steel in us is not always readily apparent. That aspect 
of our character is seldom understood by people who don't know us 
well. On this day, the family's bickering is put on hold.

As Americans we will weep, as Americans we will mourn, and as 
Americans, we will rise in defense of all that we cherish.

So I ask again: What was it you hoped to teach us? It occurs to me 
that maybe you just wanted us to know the depths of your hatred. If 
that's the case, consider the message received. And take this 
message in exchange: You don't know my people. You don't know what 
we're capable of. You don't know what you just started.

But you're about to learn.

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