- The Washington Times - Friday, September 14, 2001

America prepares for war

Tuesday night, I was ashamed to be an American. I was embarrassed by our president.

On Sept. 17, 1862, some 21,000 Americans fell in battle at Antietam, Md., in what was the bloodiest day in the Civil War and in what has remained the single-worst day of carnage in American history. Not at Pearl Harbor nor at Normandy nor at Okinawa did more Americans die in a single day. Yet, Tuesday, in Manhattan, during a time of peace, our losses very likely eclipsed that statistic. We do not yet know the death toll, but it seems probable that upward of 20,000 Americans are dead, making Sept. 11 the bloodiest day in American history.

On Dec. 8, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt decried the "unprovoked and dastardly attack" by the Japanese on Pearl Harbor, declaring that Dec. 7, 1941, was "a date which will live in infamy." Sept. 11, 2001, will prove no less infamous. Yet President Bush spoke to the American people Tuesday night in words and a tone so mild that he might well have been offering condolence to the losers of the Super Bowl.

We are now at war, and the sooner we realize this fact the sooner we will restore domestic tranquillity. Mr. Bush missed the best opportunity he will ever have to inspire the American people and fill them with the "terrible resolve" that Japanese leaders believed led to their ultimate defeat. He's no leader; he's a milquetoast.

America is accustomed to viewing catastrophic events as "tragedies." This is not a tragedy: This is an attack, an assault, an affront, an insult and a provocation unlike anything in our history. It is, and must be, war. If America does not immediately rise in all its wrath and power to this challenge, then America as it has endured since 1776 is dead. That is what the terrorists are banking on.


Churchville, Va.

The nation's top priorities are to rescue as many civilians as possible from the debris and to hunt down and destroy those responsible for the attacks. But what about the millions of Americans who are at home, at work or at school — watching, waiting and wondering what comes next? What can we, as citizens of the United States, do to help those in need? We can offer our services, our money and even our blood. These are all greatly needed. But is there something more that can be done?

We must pray that our nation and our leaders are strong. We must pray that the thousands who are suffering will know the presence of God. Our country must transcend our social, political and racial differences, so that we may unite in spirit and purpose.


Carbondale, Ill.

I urge our world leaders to respond peacefully to these events. Show the children the way things should be. If we teach them peace, there may someday be world peace. I am not saying that the responsible party should not be punished. I hope that we can do it in a way that does not teach our children to use violence. If we set the example now, the future may surprise us all.

Think of the future you want for our children. Think of the world you want them to live in.


Plainfield, Conn.

In your Sept. 12 editorial "A time for leadership," you state that "House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt would serve the nation well by emulating Republican House Speaker Joseph W. Martin Jr., who, on the very day Pearl Harbor was attacked, issued a statement offering assurance to Roosevelt and the nation." This is historical nonsense. Sam Rayburn, Texas Democrat, was speaker of the House. Mr. Martin did not become speaker until 1947. Mr. Martin was, I believe, the Republican minority leader at that time.



There is an old saying that a liberal is a conservative who has not been mugged yet. On Sept. 11, America was mugged.



As I sat transfixed before my TV set on Tuesday, I saw so many indelible images. The horror and magnitude of our loss is incalculable.

One image that will remain in my mind forever was that of throngs of cheering Palestinians in the West Bank, celebrating the annihilation of our innocent civilians. It made me realize anew how much evil and baseless hatred there is in the world. It also made me recognize the distinction between civilized societies such as ours and those that do not teach respect for humanity. We like to believe that we are all part of the human family, but sometimes we find people who act inhumanly.

Seeing such a display, however, makes me even more proud to be an American — proud to live in a country in which humanity and respect for all life are among the most basic lessons taught.



Tuesday, our nation was the victim of the first strike in a war. Pearl Harbor pales by comparison. We must respond accordingly if we wish to maintain our values, beliefs and way of life. We must adopt a policy of zero tolerance for terrorism. We must arrest any known terrorist sympathizers in our own country, and we must declare war on any nation that harbors, trains or supports terrorists.

We must swiftly and thoroughly eradicate the terrorist mentality from the globe.



I completely agree with Helle Bering, who argues in her Op-Ed column "A day of infamy" that public officials and the media should stop calling what happened in New York City and at the Pentagon a "tragedy." A tragedy is a sad event that happens by accident or due to the forces of nature. Tuesday's events were deliberate acts of terrorism.

Also, while I understand that the president must have been in shock, I expected him to convey outrage in his address to the nation, not the hangdog expression that he possessed. He wasn't reporting on the passing of a sick family member — he was dealing with a military attack on this country. He needs to let us know that, as commander in chief, he understands the challenge facing the United States.



My grade school teachers were often faced with the dilemma of not being able to identify the exact culprit of an act deserving of punishment. She would put forth two options: Either the culprit could step forward and identify himself or the whole class would be punished. This usually resulted in either the culprit owning up to his crime or a colleague turning him in, although sometimes the whole class suffered the consequences.

Our president needs to make it perfectly clear to nations that are currently engaged in international terrorism and to those who are protecting and harboring known terrorists that they are either with us or against us. And, in the latter case, he should let them know that the guilty parties must be turned over to us immediately or the entire class will be punished.


Crescent Springs, Ky.

While the attack on the Pentagon and the destruction of the World Trade Center bring to mind the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, the differences are monumental.

Pearl Harbor was orchestrated by a foreign nation — Japan — that provided the aircraft and ordnance. The attack on America came from within our borders using our own commercial jets. Clearly, the enemy is within and has been for a long time.

Any country that does not protect its sovereignty, fails to defend its borders and ignores decades of out-of-control immigration can expect exactly what happened on Sept. 11. When a foreign president visits the White House and demands amnesty for millions of his law-breaking citizens, he should be shown the door, not invited to dinner.

Yes, America is at war — but the enemy is our compassion and carelessness. I pray that the victims and their families will be able to forgive this egregious lapse of national security.



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