‘ … one nation, under God, indivisible ‘

By Brian Knox
Originally published Sunday, September 16, 2001

I’ve spent the past few days absorbing quite a bit of information from newspapers and television news reports on Tuesday’s terrorist attacks. But no matter how much information I keep cramming into my brain, it doesn’t help make the reality any more believable.

Can this happen?

Did this happen?

Sometimes I have bad dreams, and those dreams are just as real as anything in my life. I had my share of bad dreams Tuesday night. When I awoke, for a split second I had hoped everything had been a nightmare, but I quickly realized the tragedy was real.

What can you say about an event like this?

As journalists, its our job to put events into words and provide analysis and commentary on news events. If there was ever a news event, this is it.

But how can you put what happened Tuesday into words? Many try, as is evident by all the special editions of daily newspapers around the country that were swept up as soon as they hit the streets. But I don’t know if there are words to describe Tuesday’s attack.

Despite wanting to stay by the television to keep up on the day’s events, I had my own news reporting to do. Obviously, this was a story that affected the people of Wise County just as it did all other Americans.

I knew it was time to find out their reactions.

The first time I ventured outside of the office on Tuesday, it was to walk across the street to a prayer service at a local church.

I entered the sanctuary not only as a reporter, but as an American and a Christian who felt deeply saddened by the continued reports of chaos.

Yes, I was there to cover this prayer service with my colleagues as a news story, but this is one news story that was unlike anything I had covered before. Usually reporters interview people about their personal experiences, whether it is battling cancer or perhaps winning the big game. We normally don’t have the same experiences as those we interview.

That wasn’t the case Tuesday.

On that day, we were all going through the same mixed feelings of sadness, anger, confusion and uncertainty about the future. It was a news story that affected everybody, even reporters.

I saw a mix of the emotions at the service. Many wept, many sat in quiet contemplation and others gathered together to pray. Like many in attendance, I choked back a few tears as I attempted to sing the first verse of “America the Beautiful.” Never had that song had so much meaning to me.

Some at the service said the attack reminded them of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor 60 years ago.

At 24, I’ve never really experienced our country at war. While I’ve heard and seen pictures of Pearl Harbor, until Tuesday, I never really knew what that day felt like.

Later that day, I was in Alvord when I passed a gas station. I had to cross into the opposite lane of traffic to pass about four cars who had stopped in the road. They were in line for gas.

I started to pass by, but I had to turn around an go back. I had a gut feeling I knew what was going on.

“I’ve heard gas is already about $3 a gallon in the Metroplex,” one woman said to me as I walked up to take a picture of the odd sight. Rumors about sharp increases in gas prices had caused some panic.

For some reason, it wasn’t until that moment that I really began to feel the historical significance of the day’s events. Something that happened in two big cities half a country away had caused quite a commotion in a little town in Texas.

Driving back to the office, I passed several hand painted signs with the same simple message on each: “God Bless America.”

I see American flags flying at businesses all over town. I’m not sure if they were there before and I just didn’t notice them or if they were unfurled to show support for our nation.

One thing is for sure, I’ll never pass by another American flag and feel the same way again. I, as I would suspect almost all Americans, felt like this was an attack not on a couple of cities, but on our way of life and our very freedom. That flag is a symbol of our freedom, and it has become a rallying point for citizens in our country. And it should remind us how lucky we are to have that freedom.

I think of the words so many of us said as a child, ” … one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

That’s my prayer.

Look for more of WCMessenger.com’s special 9/11 tribute at www.wcmessenger.com/911.

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We must learn from the past

By Lydia Tilbury Hair
Originally published Sunday, September 16, 2001

We have had a few days now to absorb the violence that is most likely the single worst tragedy ever to happen on American soil.

Those of us who write about these things began to run out of adjectives. Horrible, dreadful, ghastly, shocking, nightmarish, horrific, cowardly and unbelievable have all been used and certainly apply. But now, we are using different words, great resolve, determined, intent and resolute.

The events of Tuesday have been compared to Pearl Harbor. They are comparable in more ways than one. It was obviously an unexpected attack for which we were unprepared. Innocent people were killed by the thousands with no preparation to present a defense.

But for me the most striking similarity is summed up in the words of Japanese Admiral Yamamoto following the attack on Pearl Harbor:

“I fear all I have done is awakened a sleeping giant and filled him with a terrible resolve.”

That is what I have seen in the people I have talked to and those I have heard on radio and television. Americans from all walks of life, from our president to the average man on the street, are filled with a resolve. It is a resolve not only to catch and punish those responsible, but also to let those that would terrorize America know that Americans have had enough of being a target and the time for talking is over. Enough Americans have died at the hands of “faceless cowards,” as President Bush called them. The blood shed on American soil in such a way as this seems too much for citizens to bear, too much to tolerate .

Certainly just plain anger is fueling many of the remarks that have been made. Outrage is heard in voices of politician, soldier and citizen. Whether the terrorists know it or not, what they have done is pull the American people together in a way that is formidable. American flag sales have sky-rocketed. You see them and homemade signs of patriotism all over town. I am sure it is the same all over the country. A scene which I will always remember occurred Tuesday at a press conference with senators and representatives on the steps of the U.S.Capitol in Washington D.C.

Following the remarks by the legislators, everyone spontaneously broke into singing “America The Beautiful.” No partisan politics, just Americans, together, unified in their pain and their resolve.

Times like these can show just what a culture is made of. What the people are like, what they believe, what they will tolerate and what they won’t. On a radio talk show the day after the attack, most of those who called in said that they thought America should retaliate with force, and if innocent people were killed, well, that is just what had to happen. It was regrettable, but the time for mercy is passed as far as most callers were concerned.

But one caller said that if America responded with violence, then we, as a country, are no better than the terrorists. This certainly gives one pause and creates a moral dilemma with no easy answer.

The thing we must guard against is truly becoming like our enemies, such as attacking those that are not guilty. In the Metroplex, at least two Muslim mosques have been vandalized.

We must not make the same mistakes that have been made all throughout history, judging and condemning one group of people because of who they are and what they are. The Jews have suffered this all through history. And following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, this country forced thousands of Japanese Americans into internment camps for no other reason than that they were Japanese.

We must take lessons from the past and not condemn all for the actions of a few, no matter how despicable and intolerable those actions may be. Let the military and law enforcement do what they must against those that are determined to be guilty. We must not become like our attackers who bring terror on people they do not know, simply because of hate.

Look for more of WCMessenger.com’s special 9/11 tribute at www.wcmessenger.com/911.

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It’s good to be back home in Wise County

By Roy Eaton
Originally published Thursday, September 20, 2001

It’s terrible to be away from home when tragedy strikes. When the terrorists crashed airplanes into the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, I was far away from the newsroom where I desperately wanted to be.

On Sunday, we had flown to Chicago for the convention of the National Newspaper Association that was to open in Milwaukee on Wednesday. We had gone a few days early to spend some time with friends from Minnesota and Tennessee before the convention began.

On Tuesday morning, we were to meet at 8:30 a.m. for breakfast and, as is our habit, Jeannine and I were watching ABC’s Good Morning America on television. Charlie Gibson and Diane Sawyer were reporting a fire in the World Trade Center and all of a sudden, out of the right hand side of the picture came a large plane. As it disappeared behind the first building, a huge explosion erupted.

“I think I saw a plane coming from the right hand side of those buildings,” Gibson said as he asked engineers to replay that portion of the video.

It was then we knew that terrorists had struck. Within the hour, the plane had crashed into the Pentagon and word quickly spread that there was another plane aimed for the Capitol or the White House. That was the plane which later crashed in a rural area of Pennsylvania.

Needless to say, any plans for a nice few days of vacation in Wisconsin evaporated as we were glued to our television sets. An ABC reporter named John Miller, whom I had not seen before, did a spectacular job with Gibson and Sawyer and later with Peter Jennings. It turned out that Miller had interviewed Osama bin Laden several years ago and he had valuable insights that were helpful as American’s struggled to gain a mental picture of this religous fanatic who had caused thousands of deaths in just moments.

Later Tuesday afternoon, in an effort to get our minds off the tragedy, we joined our friends on a boat tour of beautiful Lake Geneva in Wisconsin. But our hearts weren’t in it.

One of our friends, Jack Fishman, owns a daily newspaper in Morristown, Tennessee. Like most small newspaper men and women, Jack is a hands-on publisher and he spent much of the time on the telephone directing news coverage for his 20,000 circulation afternoon daily. If I had ever doubted the value of cellular telephones, it was erased in an instant on that Tuesday.

Because most community newspaper publishers had planned to fly into Milwaukee on Wednesday for the convention and all air traffic was grounded, National Newspaper Association officials decided to cancel the convention.

Our friends Jerry and Vana Tidwell of the Hood County News in Granbury had already arrived in Milwaukee and quickly rented a car and drove home.

Luckily for us, we had rented a car in Chicago, and after a day in Milwaukee, we decided it was best to drive home. We left after a luncheon at the home of former NNA President Bruce Brown in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, and headed home for Texas.

We stopped the first night in Moline, Il., to visit the birthplace of John Deere and see the beautiful new John Deere Pavilion on the banks of the Mississippi river. While there, Decatur Mayor Bobby Wilson called us just to make sure we were OK.

As we drove toward Wichita, Kansas, on Friday, we listened on the car radio to the memorial service at the National Cathedral in Washington. Having been to the beautiful Episcopal Cathedral several times, it was easy to draw a mental picture of the service. Hearing Dr. Billy Graham say that even he could not explain to his own satisfaction how God’s actions were at work in this disaster brought a sense of relief to my mind. If Billy Graham can’t understand it, then it’s not offensive to God that I can’t.

And then, as the worshipers sang “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” when the service closed, tears began to flow down my cheeks as I remembered in sorrow the thousands of persons whose lives were lost and their families and friends whose lives were forever changed.

While they may seem frivolous, there are several things that I thought important. First, I learned to appreciate National Public Radio more than I ever have. My colleagues Skip Nichols and Ken Roselle are avid NPR listeners, but not until this trip, driving and away from the dependability of ABC, NBC and CNN, did I realize how much NPR meant.

Another, perhaps insignificant thing, that crossed my mind, was how Hertz Rent-a-Car had made me a customer for life when they told me to just drive the Mercury Grand Marquis I had rented in Chicago on home to DFW and there would be no extra charge or penalty for leaving the car somewhere other than where I had rented it.

I understand that other rental car companies had done the same thing for their customers, but I also heard there had been some price gouging by others.

The big story through the Midwest was that some gasoline stations were charging up to $5 per gallon for gas, but we never saw that. The most we paid was $1.81 as we made our way down I-35 toward home.

At home, in our own church on Sunday, we sat with what I would call an “Easter size” group of worshipers as we gathered to hear our minister, Rusty Hedges, try to make sense of what had happened. He did a great job under very difficult circumstances because in addition to the New York and Washington tragedies, Rusty’s good friend, Rev. Bill May, pastor of the Boyd United Methodist Church, had just died of cancer at the much too young age of 42.

But, as the service closed, when music director Lillian Sattawhite led the congregation in God Bless America, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

It’s good to be home and at work with those you love in times like these. The fellowship of your home and workplace helps heal our wounds and lift our spirits in times of unspeakable sorrow.

It’s good to be home with all of you.

Look for more of WCMessenger.com’s special 9/11 tribute at www.wcmessenger.com/911.

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American flag reflects personal meaning for each of us

By Brian Knox
Originally published Thursday, September 27, 2001

With all of the tragic stories we’ve been hearing over the past two weeks, I’ve tried to look at some of the good to come out of all this.

The most obvious positive sign I’ve seen is the display of patriotism and support shown by all of the United States flags that have been flying (and money drives) nearly everywhere you look. It is great to see how much pride we all suddenly have for our country, even though it took a great loss of lives to make us realize that.

This time of tragedy has brought out the best, and also unfortunately the worst, Americans have to offer.

I was reminded of that Monday morning when I went to the Boyd Intermediate School to take a photo.

The students spent the past Saturday washing cars, hosting a garage and bake sale and collecting donations.

The day was an overwhelming success, as the kids raised nearly $3,000 that will be donated to the American Red Cross for the disaster relief effort.

Principal Anke Bracey was nearly gushing as she described how proud she was of her kids’ effort.

But the conversation took a disheartening turn when she described something that happened the day after the fund-raiser.

Last Thursday, the school received new U.S. flags for their classrooms. Instead of throwing out the older flags, the school decided to show their patriotism by displaying the flags along a fence in front of the school. Anybody who went to the fund-raiser on Saturday was sure to see the sight of 20 United States flags hanging proudly at the school.

But when students and teachers arrived at school Monday morning, all but one United States flag had been stolen.

The school contacted the Wise County Sheriff’s Office and they are currently investigating the thefts.

My thought is this: why would somebody do something like this?

Did the person, or persons, who did this want a flag of their own? If so, they defeat the purpose of proudly displaying the flag.

Did the culprit want to take the flags and resell them to make money? If so, that is truly disrespectful to our country.

The most likely reason for stealing the flags is probably as a prank. I don’t see anybody laughing, though. At a time when our nation is trying to come together in a show of solidarity, a stunt such as that is truly ill-timed.

This is the second such occurrence I’ve seen in Wise County since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and I suspect there are more that I am unaware of.

Less than two days after the attack, John Juarez of Bridgeport woke up to find that his family’s large United States flag on display on their front porch had been sliced up by vandals. All that was left was a narrow strip of the left side of the flag. The flag had belonged to a World War II veteran and had been a permanent fixture at the Lion’s Club boxing gym where John had taught.

That story had somewhat of a happy ending, though. A man by the name of Lee Dennis drove by and saw the family’s plight. He went home and loaned the Juarez one of his own flags. As a show of symbolism, Juarez also hung the piece of the destroyed flag on the porch underneath a sign that said, “Vandals destroyed our flag, but not our faith.”

The flags themselves probably aren’t worth a whole lot as far as monetary value. But as one of the men who presented the students at Boyd Intermediate with their new flags said Thursday, the flag is a symbol, and the meaning of that flag is determined by the individual. Each person must decide what that flag means to him or her on a personal level.

I wish those people who had stolen the flags had taken even a moment to think about that. Maybe they will.

Look for more of WCMessenger.com’s special 9/11 tribute at www.wcmessenger.com/911.

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Arm pilots now: Air piracy is not going away

By Captain Mark Estabrook
Originally published Sunday, September 16, 2001

In order to immediately restore faith in our nation’s air travel industry, it is time that the FAA Administrator and air carrier certificate holders authorize the immediate carriage of sidearms by all commercial airline pilots in the United States. Existing regulations permit such carriage (See Title 14, Chapter 1, Subchapter F, Part 108), and training should commence immediately.

Long-term, firearm safety courses could become permanent fixtures of commercial airline pilot training. Carrying weapons should be mandatory, as it is for police officers, Secret Service details, and sky marshals.

Critics will argue that an insane airline pilot might shoot someone.

Think about it. A maniacal pilot can manipulate the controls to crash into any target he wants at anytime, so why don’t we trust him with a firearm? Others may argue that an armed pilot could have his weapon taken from him and used to commit the very act of air piracy that the carriage of such weapons would be designed to prevent. But I ask you, if you had been a passenger on board the American and United flights that crashed in Washington, D.C., New York City and Pennsylvania, would you have wanted your pilots to at least have had a fighting chance?

Of course you would.

If national policy dictates it, the technology now exists for handguns to be “imprinted” with the identity of the owner, so that the pilot is the only one capable of discharging the weapon.

Over-penetration in a pressurized cabin is another significant issue. To combat this, many ammunition manufacturers produce a specialized frangible aluminum or plastic bullet that is designed to break up quickly on impact with solid objects. Since selected frangible rounds turn to dust with no ricochet and shoot more accurately then plated or jacketed bullets, pilots can safely put down hijackers in close quarters without penetrating our pressurized cabins.

Every time you board a plane, you put your faith and trust in that pilot. So why not trust him to protect the cockpit from hijackers? Although sky marshals have been used in passenger cabins in the past, they cannot absolutely protect the last layer of defense in any aircraft — the pilots in the cockpit. In addition, who would protect cargo pilots who fly widebody aircraft all over the world if we were to simply rely on sky marshals? And as we have learned from the incidents at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, it doesn’t matter who or what is on board a large airliner, the end result is the same.

Here are some other long term solutions for a comprehensive security net that must be constructed:

Bulkheads must be redesigned in future aircraft production to preclude any forced entry — either by mechanical or explosive penetration.

Cockpit doors must be redesigned to replicate a bank vault in design. Solid steel pins should seal the door on all sides. Crews must be trained that the cockpit door will not be opened under any circumstances, up to and including the execution of hostages in the cabin. Bathrooms should be installed in the cockpit, and food can be served to the crews prior to departure and ovens installed in the cockpit for convenience.

Armed air marshals should be stationed between the cockpit and the passengers, or aft of the cockpit entry door on cargo carriers. Utilization of air marshals should be redefined from now on. They should be deployed to protect the pilots in the cockpit and the citizens on the ground, rather than the passengers in the cabin. Therefore, all cargo carriers should utilize air marshals as well.

Professional personnel earning professional wages must be used at airport security checkpoints. Extensive training in interdiction techniques and new technologies are inevitable, but low-paid, uneducated security personnel should be a thing of the past.

Deployment of better and more pervasive bomb sniffing technology can be accomplished on short order throughout our nation’s airports, and sniffing of every bag, both checked and carryon, as well as every box shipped via cargo carriers, should be mandatory. Manual searches of every carryon bag should be accomplished.

Cease and desist all attempts by the Federal government to “harmonize” FAA pilot licensure requirements and procedures with those of foreign governments. American citizens should be the only ones certificated to carry passengers and cargo within our territory. Furthermore, government attempts to ease existing Cabotage Laws, laws which protect American air and maritime commerce for reasons of safety, economics, national defense and labor, should be abandoned. Combined with recent events is the Egypt Air incident, which should tell Americans who they want piloting U.S. routes.

A national commitment to change the way aircraft are constructed should be made. Existing fleets of aircraft should be retrofitted within a defined time period, such as 24 months.

But the last layer in our defensive shield should always be the armed pilots who sit at the flight controls. Identification of airline pilots authorized to carry weapons can be accomplished through fingerprint and retinal scanning technology and their access controlled at selected entry points.

It’s in all of our best interests to take immediate steps to protect our national commerce and transportation system. Granted, investment in an aviation security revolution is expensive, but what is the cost of terrorist attacks on U.S. targets? What price do you put on the other national security targets that would make the World Trade Center pale in comparison?

We should immediately jettison our anti-gun notions when it comes to the protection of thousands of people’s lives. Let’s commit our American ingenuity to revolutionizing our aircraft and airport security measures. Failure to do so will exact a continuing drain on our nation’s resources, economy and most importantly, our humanity.

Captain Mark Estabrook is the editor of AirlinePilots.com. He has served in the United States Air Force as an E3 AWACS aircraft commander with duty in the Persian Gulf region during the Iran-Iraq war. He received a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Oklahoma in 1987. Mark Estabrook currently serves as an Airbus captain at FedEx.

Look for more of WCMessenger.com’s special 9/11 tribute at www.wcmessenger.com/911.

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NYU student is fortunate witness to tragedy

By Lauren Sabedra
Originally published Sunday, September 30, 2001

Winston Grant is 60 years old and worked on the 30th floor of the South tower of the World Trade Center. If found, please contact his wife.

Mikey McGovern’s wife wants him to know she loves him no matter where he is.

Lucille King worked on the 92nd floor. She always wears an angel pin on her blouse.

No matter how hard I try I cannot put my experience into fitting words. Society proclaims the Sept. 11 attack was a sign of hatred. But did the terrorists hate Winston Grant? No, Grant was just unfortunate.

I, on the other hand, am fortunate. Although past days required a mask for the outdoors, I can still breath the air. Although my afternoon walks are confined to a small relief area south of 14th Street, I can still walk.

Mikey McGovern will never walk the streets of Manhattan again.

I stood wide-eyed from the front of my dorm building as two planes dove into the World Trade Towers and took the lives of Grant, McGovern and King. Three people I know only from missing persons flyers around lower Manhattan.

As an immortal 18-year-old, smoke and flames mean little more than a movie action scene. I just could not grasp what a milestone in history I had witnessed.

It never hit me when I heard the sound of the towers collapsing, a crash almost inaudible because of the screams from the streets. It did not occur to me when classes were canceled for a week or when local grocery stores and dorm cafeterias began to run out of food.

It was not until the next day that I realized the magnitude of destruction. I had come out of a movie theater on Broadway, a New York street notorious for cramped sidewalks and speeding taxis, to find a stream of cars on fire and not a soul around.

On Sept. 11, I watched from less than two miles history in the making and survived. Lucille King did not.

Therefore, I proudly join my community in making lemonade from lemons. Despite world news of hatred, the sun now shines brighter for me. I laugh harder, smile bigger and love with more sincerity.

I am still 18, though I do not feel as immortal. That is why I wear an angel pin on my shirt.

Lauren Sabedra is the granddaughter of C.L. ‘Ham’ and Patricia Wenzel of Decatur. Sabedra is a freshman broadcast communications major at New York University. She is a graduate of Trinity High School in Hurst-Euless-Bedford, where she was editor of the school newspaper and annual and a cheerleader.

Look for more of WCMessenger.com’s special 9/11 tribute at www.wcmessenger.com/911.

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Your Views of Attack on America

Do not judge
Originally published Sunday, September 16, 2001

While living in Tulsa, my wife and I opened our home to international students attending the university. In God’s providence we were assigned students from Arabic countries and of the Islamic faith.

It seems as if this was God’s way of chastisement, correcting and extending His grace.

Chastisement because I had allowed prejudice and anger to fester as a result of a small group of radicals who held Americans hostage in Iran and displayed bodies of American soldiers as trophies.

Correcting in, I did not know that, as a people, their horizontal relationships are closer to the standards taught by Christ than what most Christians practice.

Grace in that we were able to share the gospel of Christ with many as well as being blessed with an extended family in which there is mutual love in spite of our religious differences.

For you, who like I did, tend to group an entire people as one, please consider the following excerpt from an e-mail from a young Arabic man of the Islamic faith.

“I would like to offer you and your family and the American people my condolences and sympathy for the horrible incident in the U.S. and hope that those who planned it are found. I am sure that you have faith in God and that He will be with those who needs His assistance.

“When I first heard the news I though it was a plane crash, an accident, but when I saw the TV I could not believe that such evil people on the world exists.

“As you know, Islam forbids the killing of innocent people in war and peace, even forbids suicide in all its forms

“I hope that you do not judge Islam or Muslims by what has happened.”

Roland Davie

Remember NY
Originally published Sunday, September 16, 2001

To: World terrorists

From: The people of the United States of America

We received your message of September 11 and respond as follows:

Yes, we had received your previous messages but, you see, we have always been a peaceful nation, slow to anger and a deep appreciation for our freedom and the freedom of all other countries. Our country was founded and has been maintained by those who respect human life.

We have hesitated to come after you because we knew many innocent lives would be lost in such a task. We had hoped that some way would manifest itself that we could live with you in peace, with you respecting our way of life and we respecting yours. We have always been at the forefront of such peace efforts around the world.

We are not a nation of conquest. After World War II, rather than celebrate our victory as rulers of the conquered countries, we came together as a nation and provided billions of dollars to feed and clothe our former ememies and returned their countries to their people. These countries and the countries we freed from tyranny are living, thriving testimonials to our respect for freedom and human dignity.

We are not just a nation of words. We have come to the aid of many countries when their freedom was threatened. Many of us have died in those endeavors. Most of us are willing to do just that if that is what is takes. We really have no choice because the freedom we hold so dear was a gift to us from many who sacrificed their lives on the batttle fields to protect it. We will not shirk our duty.

You are very foolish if you think America, with the most powerful Army, Navy and Air Force in the history of the world, with the pride our people have for the stars and stripes waving against a smoke filled sky over New York, that we will not stand up and be counted.

Yes, we got your message and we are coming. We are not coming just for bin Laden, we are coming to destroy terriorsim. We know it will be a long, and difficult task and many of us will not live to see the end, but we will find you and your partners in evil and we will destroy you. We hope that innocent people will not suffer due to our task, but, if they do, it is you that has caused their suffering.

We know now that you are a malignancy of hate and evil spreading throughout the world. We will carve you out as the cancer that you are.

And, by the way, maybe you have convinced some mental midgets that God sanctions your efforts, but we, whither we be Christian, Jewish, Muslim or other god-loving people, we know the difference between God and Satan. Only Satan would destroy innocent people at random.

“Remember New York”

William Kerley
Runaway Bay

Great country
Originally published Sunday, September 16, 2001

A friend of mine called me on the phone and told me to hurry and turn on my television, “They’ve bombed the Pentagon and the two towers in New York City!”

Watching this horror on the TV screen, I found myself watching, but not comprehending, what my eyes were seeing. At first I thought of the poor people in those planes who had been on their way home, who had got up this morning like they did every morning. Then I thought of the people in that building who were burning or desperately trying to get out, and my heart ached for them all.

To see the first tower crumble caused such pain through my soul the tears began flowing – all those people, those poor people! Families who would never be the same again, children without parents, spouses without spouses – the horror was overwhelming. The collapse of the second tower brought the same disbelief that this was happening, a surreal feeling that what I was seeing wasn’t really real at all, it couldn’t be.

I also witnessed something that had never happened before in my lifetime. America closed its airports and its borders, military planes circled New York City, a war zone on American soil.

However, despite this disaster of incomparable magnitude, my heart was also overjoyed to watch thousands line up nationwide to give blood, people reaching out and helping the hurt get to help, a city remaining calm in the greatest adversity. I felt so much pride for those New Yorkers, for America. Yes, they took out some of our tallest buildings, they breeched our national security by reaching the Pentagon, but they did not succeed in crushing America’s spirit.

In addition to horrible, unspeakable tragedy, I also watched what makes our country so great – its people.

Davene LeBlanc

God Bless
Originally published Sunday, September 16, 2001

This whole event seems so surreal, even though I know it is only too real. I seem as if I am on the outside looking in and wish there was a way to undo what has been done. My heart aches for all the injured and for the families of the ones lost, our fallen heroes that were first responders, the police, the firefighters, the emergency personnel that were killed in their attempts to offer aid.

Let us pray for the families that are left behind, for those who have not been able to find their loved ones. What agony they must be suffering. May God send his mighty Angels to surround us all in this time of devastation and in the days to come when we no longer know what to expect.

The attackers are cowards and cold hearted for they harmed and killed so many innocent people and yet they refuse to be identified for fear of retaliation. But I know in my heart that God will bless America and that America will rise once again to be the stronghold she has always been.

God Bless America!

Donna Spencer

Lack of courage
Originally published Sunday, September 16, 2001

I am mad as hell. This dispicable deed is the direct result of our country’s leaders coddling outlaw nations for many, many years. If we had the courage to ignore the bleeding hearts of the world, we could have stopped this in its tracks. I am referring to the action by Congress in 1976 that prohibited the assassination of rouge leaders. If Saddam Hussain and his ilk were dead now, this would not have happened.

We all know who and what is behind this act of war.

I only know if I was running the show we would make a self-illuminating parking lot out of Afganistan and Iraq before the day is over.

Jerry W. Hopkins

Time will heal
Originally published Sunday, September 16, 2001

As the events of yesterday (Sept. 11, 2001) unfold, and as America wakes up to a crisis, we wonder why. I, as a young person in this world, have never seen anything this tragic, and do not know what to think. To think that someone would do something this uncouth, is appalling and unreasonable. I for one was not ready to handle this situation.

As I look and watch as the panic spreads, and life stops for a short minute, I wonder why someone would commit something so violent. I have no answer to this question, and can only begin to think of all the possibilities ahead. I offer my sympathy and prayers to all who have lost loved ones and those who still are waiting for the results of the tragedies that have taken America by surprise. President Bush said it best, when he said, “They may be able to shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they will not shake the foundation of America.”

As for the gas prices skyrocketing, it is unreal. To know that no gas shortage is in existence, there is no reason for panic. We need to understand that filling up at the high prices will cause a gas crisis, and cause the prices to rise even higher. You must understand that this panic was caused by the tragedy that occurred earlier. Step back and realize that the people that are raising prices are only in it for a profit and are taking advantage of the American people. Stand together and do not pay these prices. I for one will not and shall not fall into this trap.

These frustrations are not uncommon at this time. As we take this day by day we must stand together and unite to help our nation in its time of need. For only time will heal all that has been done to the people of America.

Christopher William Bias

You never know
Originally published Sunday, September 16, 2001

Yesterday my worst fear, my worst nightmare became a reality. The things you only read about or watch in movies became very real for me. I didn’t see any of it until I came home from work, but I found myself glued to the radio and pulling up any and every Web site I could.

It is at a time like this when we, as a nation, need to pull together and be very aware of our surroundings.

Having to explain to my children is something I hoped I would never have to do. The first question they asked after school was, “What happened today, mom?” Holding back tears, I tried my best to explain. Of course, they didn’t seem to grasp it all – the severity of it. To them, as to me, this only happens somewhere else.

I spent hours after arriving home from work, through tears, watching TV and praying for the victims and their families, President Bush and all who surround him. I experienced, for the first time, how much we take for granted in this world. We should get down on bended knee every morning and thank God almighty at how much freedom we really do have.

The chaos on the way home at the gas stations is something you only see on TV or movies. It was incredible. As I was getting ready for work the morning after, the radio station I was listening to played a song that really was very fitting. Through tears, yet again I listened as they played “One Voice” by Billy Gilman. The line, ” … we need some help, down here on Earth,” really hit home. I know that Sept. 11, 2001, will always be a vivid reminder of just how close anyone of us can come to losing everything, our lives, our freedom, everything.

Starting today, don’t let one day go by without telling your children, spouse, mother, father, brothers, sisters, friends, relatives, any and everyone, that you love them. You just never know.

Krista Lewis

Let peace begin
Originally published Sunday, September 16, 2001

I am a free American , but my freedom must bring personal responsibility. I believe that this goes for the media, also. For years, I have tried to be tolerant of the negativity of certain talk show hosts. It is one thing to politically disagree, but quite another to feed the fires of hate against our government leaders. Surely these folks could take a more creative approach, thus helping to promote respect for this great country, and still maintain their freedom of expression.

A song, found in our church hymnal, whose words were written by Jill Jackson, says it best. Let there be Peace on Earth, and Let it begin with me.

God Bless America!

Pat McDonald

Satan is enemy
Originally published Sunday, September 16, 2001

We must now join together as a united front to assist the heartbroken, injured and emotionally traumatized citizens of our country. If you do not have a close relationship with God, now is the time to establish one.

Fear nothing with God’s love around you. Hate no one but despise the acts of evil.

The perpetrators of these evil deeds will meet justice, on this earth or for eternity. No religion would support evil acts of violence – only false believers who use certain religions to hide behind to advance their evil agendas for earthly power and gain.

Americans, know your enemy. He is Satan.

Judy Bartlett

Trust in God
Originally published Sunday, September 16, 2001

When I lost my Mom two years ago, it was the most devastating thing to ever happen to me. I can’t begin to describe the horrible grief and pain.

As I watch the current events on the news I know that there are thousands of people grieving for loved ones. As I say the word grieving, it is not enough. It is more a feeling of your heart being ripped out and stepped upon. Let me offer this that has carried me through the first few years. Jesus. Jesus knows how it hurt. He knows your heart. At a time like this, in order to continue we must focus our energy on something. Sadly some will choose rage, some revenge. These will never ease your pain. Put your life into Jesus’ hands. Accept him into your heart and let him lead your steps.

Healing will be slow but every day that passes will help dull the pain. You will never forget nor will the country that is mourning with you. We don’t want to forget. These people were a part of our lives and will stay so. But please know that the pain will lighten. One day you will be able to go about your day without heart-wrenching pain every moment. Please trust in God, he knows your thoughts, and when we run out of things to blame many will blame Him. But know this, He is the one who loves those we lost more than we did, yes it is true. He loves you that much too, and He will help you if you will let Him.

Laura Skaggs

God is holy
Originally published Sunday, September 16, 2001

Why should God bless America? Do we remember him in the good times? Do we only call on him in times of troubles? We are a nation that has killed more babies through abortion than the terrorist have killed in the recent carnage. We have taken prayer out of schools, taken nativity scenes from public places. We fight because of the 10 commandments in some of our courts.

How dare we ask the almighty God that created heaven and earth to help us until we individually and as a nation repent of our sins, then perhaps he will help us; not because he owes it to us, but because he is a righteous and holy God.
II Chronicles 7:14

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves and pray, and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will for give their sins, and heal their land.”

Estelle Seely

Do not judge
Originally published Sunday, September 16, 2001

An eye for an eye leaves everyone blind. While we feel passionate about seeking justice for Tuesday’s actions, let us not be so hasty that we ridicule and condemn the innocent.

Remember the horrible treatment of Asian-looking people during the second war. If you consider yourself a fair person, put yourself in others’ shoes and make sure to whom you point the finger. For those of you who want to send back all immigrants, we’ll help you pack.

Barbara Yerby

America lives in us
Originaly published Thursday, September 20, 2001

An open letter to a terrorist:

Well, you hit the World Trade Center, but you missed America. You hit the Pentagon, but you missed America. You used helpless American bodies, to take out other American bodies, but like a poor marksman, you still missed America.

Why? Because of something you guys will never understand. America isn’t about a building or two, not about financial centers, not about military centers, America isn’t about a place, America isn’t even about a bunch of bodies.

America is about an idea. An idea, that you can go someplace where you can earn as much as you can figure out how to, live for the most part, like you envisioned living, and pursue Happiness. (No guarantees that you’ll reach it, but you can sure try!)

Go ahead and whine your terrorist whine, and chant your terrorist litany: “If you can not see my point, then feel my pain.” This concept is alien to Americans. We live in a country where we don’t have to see your point.

But you’re free to have one. We don’t have to listen to your speech. But you’re free to say one. Don’t know where you got the strange idea that everyone has to agree with you.

There’s a spirit that tends to take over people who come to this country, looking for opportunity, looking for liberty, looking for freedom. Even if they misuse it.

You guys seem to be incapable of understanding that we don’t live in America, America lives in us! American spirit is what it’s called. And killing a few thousand of us, or a few million of us, won’t change it.

Most of the time, it’s a pretty happy-go-lucky kind of spirit. Until we’re crossed in a cowardly manner, then it becomes an entirely different kind of spirit.

Wait until you see what we do with that spirit, this time.

Sleep tight, if you can. We’re coming.

Author Unknown.

Red Foster

Stand strong and united
Originaly published Thursday, September 20, 2001

Thank you for giving us the freedom of speech, first and foremost. My heart and tears go out to the families and I continue to pray for more people to be found alive. I would like to say that I feel that it’s time America stop being Mr. Nice Guy – sometimes you have to fight for what’s right and what’s wrong. This was pure evil, it was planned, it was cold-blooded murder. I back our goverment, our president, our country and our God. I feel like an eye for eye, and that we as a nation should stand strong, united and, as one, support our colors, show that you care for our land, our freedom and our future.

Kimberly LaFever

Love your family
Originaly published Thursday, September 20, 2001

I just need to share this message and poem I found in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in April 1966. My mother had suddenly passed away on Palm Sunday (4-3-1966). I had just served three years in the Army as an EKG technican at Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland. I had seen vets come back wounded from Viet Nam. My parents moved here from Maryland. I got to spend seven months here before she passed away. I was 22, my brother was 16. I buried my parents two months apart. My father couldn’t bear the loss of my mother. My mother was 43 and my father was 45 when they passed away.

This poem I have passed on to numerous friends throughout the years. It is titled “Personally, If Only” by Pat Vaughn.

“I meant to shake his hand when I saw him yesterday – But thought I was too rushed to linger. And left the other way. I meant to tell him I remembered when life was bleak and gray. And he had done a lot for me That I could not repay. These were the things upon my mind I wanted so to say. I wish that I had taken time. He is not here today.”

I try to live this every day. Life is short. We get so involved with work, etc. and tend to say “later.” As we all can see from the recent tragic events, there is no later for a lot of people. Be kind to each other. Money is not worth anything but to buy the necessary things. But we have to get back to the basics. Love your family, know your neighbors take interest in helping your neighbors, and in humanity itself.

Thank the good Lord for what you do have. You are blessed in your own individual way. I just wanted to share this. Thank you for listening. God bless America and all the people.

Judy Lane

Canadian praises America
Originaly published Thursday, September 20, 2001

This, from a Canadian newspaper, no less, is worth sharing.

America: The Good Neighbor

Widespread but only partial news coverage was given recently to a remarkable editorial broadcast from Toronto by Gordon Sinclair, a Canadian television commentator. What follows is the full text of his trenchant remarks as printed in the Congressional Record:

“This Canadian thinks it is time to speak up for the Americans as the most generous and possibly the least appreciated people on all the earth. Germany, Japan and, to a lesser extent, Britain and Italy were lifted out of the debris of war by the Americans who poured in billions of dollars and forgave other billions in debts. None of these countries is today paying even the interest on its remaining debts to the United States. When France was in danger of collapsing in 1956, it was the Americans who propped it up, and their reward was to be insulted and swindled on the streets of Paris. I was there. I saw it.

When earthquakes hit distant cities, it is the United States that hurries in to help. This spring, 59 American communities were flattened by tornadoes. Nobody helped.

The Marshall Plan and the Truman Policy pumped billions of dollars into discouraged countries. Now newspapers in those countries are writing about the decadent, warmongering Americans.

I’d like to see just one of those countries that is gloating over the erosion of the United States dollar build its own airplane. Does any other country in the world have a plane to equal the Boeing Jumbo Jet, the Lockheed Tri-Star, or the Douglas DC10? If so, why don’t they fly them? Why do all the international lines except Russia fly American Planes?

Why does no other land on earth even consider putting a man or woman on the moon? You talk about Japanese technocracy, and you get radios. You talk about German technocracy, and you get automobiles. You talk about American technocracy, and you find men on the moon – not once, but several times and safely home again.

You talk about scandals, and the Americans put theirs right in the store window for everybody to look at. Even their draft-dodgers are not pursued and hounded. They are here on our streets, and most of them, unless they are breaking Canadian laws, are getting American dollars from ma and pa at home to spend here.

When the railways of France, Germany and India were breaking down through age, it was the Americans who rebuilt them. When the Pennsylvania Railroad and the New York Central went broke, nobody loaned them an old caboose. Both are still broke.

I can name you 5,000 times when the Americans raced to the help of other people in trouble. Can you name me even one time when someone else raced to the Americans in trouble? I don’t think there was outside help even during the San Francisco earthquake.

Our neighbors have faced it alone, and I’m one Canadian who is tired of hearing them get kicked around. They will come out of this thing with their flag high. And when they do, they are entitled to thumb their nose at the lands that are gloating over their present troubles. I hope Canada is not one of those.”

Stand proud, America!

J.R. Beam

Airport security is lax
Originaly published Thursday, September 20, 2001

I believe it is easy to bring weapons on board a plane. I have set off the airport metal detector only once since getting an artificial knee. I’ve passed security in these airports: Frankfurt, Brussels, Venice, Rome Barcelona, Madrid, and DFW since surgery. DFW was the only airport to detect metal in my knee – once out of six passes through the metal detector. I have 2.5 pounds of titanium steel in my knee! Knee replacement patients carry a card like mine, but no security agent ever asked to see proof.

Mary Ray

We will never forget the horror
Originaly published Thursday, September 20, 2001

A few years ago I went to Northern Ireland. I had never been in a place where the police and military patrolled continuously. During my stay there, three bombings occurred. There was disruption of the train services and you had to use caution as to where you went in certain parts of the city. I thought to myself then, how can these people live like this day in and out? Having to be searched just to go into a store. I thought to myself how lucky I was not to have that fear every day of my life.

Well, that has changed forever now. I know that fear and horror. For the first time in my adult life I was and am truly afraid. Everything that has been safe and sure is not as safe as it was. I feel we all will overcome and go forward with our lives, but we will never forget the sights or the sounds of this horror.

God bless those who have lost loved ones, friends and co-workers. God bless those very brave souls who risked their lives and those who have lost their lives to help others. Be it a policeman, fireman, ordinary person who is helping or the ones on the planes that did what they could – what wonderful and courageous heroes. Thank you.

Zoe Mayhue

Show your support
Originaly published Thursday, September 20, 2001

My thoughts on this tragedy … The first one that comes to mind is God bless the victims and their families, and friends. God be with all the rescuers and their families that they be safe. The rescuers will have to live with all the sights and smells the rest of their lives and that won’t be easy. I was not born when Pearl Harbor was bombed so I don’t know the panic or fears our country must have felt at that time. I do know the feelings of fear and panic after the Oklahoma bombing. But if these are any indication it shows me that our American people were strong then and we are strong today. We are not going to let this take us down. God bless America. We need to show our support by flying our American flag. If you do not have one, show support by tying red, white and blue ribbons on our trees. Last, but not least, we must pray.

Karen Tedrow

Pray for rescue workers
Originaly published Thursday, September 20, 2001

As we begin to get back to our daily schedules following the terrorist attacks, I know that the victims and rescue workers are in your thoughts and prayers. However, I would like to emphasize how the role of the rescuer is changing. As each day passes the chance of finding survivors obviously diminishes and the rescuers become searchers. Emotionally this change can be devastating because the hope of finding a survivor is displaced by the fear of finding a body.

As a volunteer fireman I have felt the excitement of working to save someone when they were trapped in a twisted vehicle; there is no fatigue and there are no distractions. I have also known the despair of extricating bodies from the wreckage. The tools are heavy and cumbersome and nothing seems easy. The memory of these scenes always overshadows the former. I cannot imagine what it would be like to know that every day for weeks I would have to face that reality.

I commend and honor these people because I fear that I do not possess such strength. The emotional scars and nightmares will haunt them forever in ways we can never understand. We have thanked the Lord for their presence, now we must ask for the emotional healing of these victims of this devastation. It will take years for these men and women to learn to cope with this, so please keep them on your prayer list for years to come. It may help to learn the name of one worker and pray for them specifically with your family and maybe, just maybe, when your child wants to ‘be like Mike’ they will not be referring to what kind of shoe to wear.

Patrick Murphree

Touching moment
Originaly published Thursday, September 20, 2001

Last Friday night, September, 14, at the Paradise football game, a touching moment happened to honor America and those in New York and Washington. Before the game, the announcer, Coach Fortenberry, said that anyone in the stands who would like to gather all the way around the track and join hands to form a big circle in unity to honor the tragedy could do so. I think that just about everyone at that game, Paradise and Valley View people both, were around the football field (track).

When I looked around the circle it sent chills down my back as well as down the backs of other classmates standing beside me. It was a really an emotional scene when “Let Freedom Ring” and “God Bless America” were played over the loud speaker. It brought tears to most people’s eyes at that homecoming game. When the “National Anthem” was sung that night, the football players and coaches went to center field and every other player was Paradise, Valley View. They looked on at the Army soldiers carrying the flags. That night the “National Anthem” meant a little more to me, and I think to everyone.

Katheryne McGilvray

Passengers are real heroes
Originaly published Thursday, September 20, 2001

It is very apparent from what is coming out of the investigation that United Airlines flight 93 that crashed in West Pennsylvania was to be the fourth living flying bomb to be used against an unknown target in Washington, D.C. It is also very apparent that some, if not many of the passengers, moved to stop what was going to happen at the ultimate risk to themselves and eventually paid the ultimate price that everyone aboard the plane paid.

In this country we celebrate heroes. I for one cannot find a greater sense of what heroism is than what was attempted in that plane. It is most obvious to anyone with even one living brain cell that the crash of that plane short of Washington, D.C., in a farm field where only those who died were those aboard that plane, must have been as deliberate an act as the planes that smashed three of this country’s great landmarks and institutions. This was done because in this single case the hijackers lost and the American Heroes won. In doing so, a few died as compared to the hundreds if not thousands that were so obviously saved. In this context these people are heroes and should be so recognized.

In this country, Congress has the power to show its appreciation and gratitude through special awards and honors. For civilians the highest honor is called the Medal of Freedom; in the military it is called the Medal of Honor. I am writing my President, my congressional leaders and any other interested parties that all except the hijacking scum aboard this plane be honored in the following way. All civilians aboard this aircraft should be recognized with a Medal of Freedom to be given to the next of kin, and all military personnel next of kin aboard this flight to be given the Medal of Honor. Because of this selfless act the skyline of Washington, D.C. still has the monuments and beauty that are this country. I know that to these families that lost loved ones on this flight these honors will seem small compensation, but it will let them know that this country has recognized that their lost loved ones for a split second loved their country and fellow human beings more than themselves and acted upon that love with the ultimate sacrifice in the truest of American tradition and honor.

For your consideration and understanding.

C.W. Randolph

Time has come to kill enemies
Originaly published Thursday, September 20, 2001

When Pearl Harbor was attacked on Dec. 7, 1941, I was an infant, only two weeks old. My mother and father were faced immediately with the fear of separation and the possible death of my young father.

Pearl Harbor, while a horrendous sneak attack, took thousands of American lives and was focused to destroy our Pacific Naval Fleet and gain some military advantage.

Not so these attacks that took place on Sept. 11, 2001, on New York and our Pentagon. For what reason? Simply to destroy thousands of Americans. Not soldiers but mothers, fathers, grandparents, sons and daughters – to foster terror, weaken our economic stability and to begin to destroy our way of life.

Everyone has heard of atrocious acts committed throughout history, horrors perpetrated – man against man – in the name of God. This sacrilege is still with us, even in this present day. Once again, it has happened.

I’m an American. My wish would be that we would punish only the criminal terrorists and those who have given them aid and safe harbor. However, I now believe the time has come for the full force and fury of our mighty nation to be brought to bear on the necks of our enemies.

My husband and I have eight grandchildren, all of whom have the right to have and to enjoy the quality of our American life. My grief and horror over this attack has now been joined with another emotion – cold, hard anger.

We Americans must now stand together against this enemy. As Americans we will do what must be done – no matter the cost. Our enemies have underestimated our resolve in the past. They have done so again.

I’m reminded that our national symbol, the eagle, was chosen in part by its awesome strength and its ability to fly through a storm. So to our enemies I say “We will rise upon the wings of an eagle and fly through this storm to victory.”

God Bless America.

Ce Ce Lisby

Let the fight begin
Originaly published Thursday, September 20, 2001

While those of us who have been around awhile know life doesn’t come with a guarantee, this business of killing innocent people to prove a point must come to an end.

If it takes war to wipe out terrorism, then let the fight begin. Let’s be sure our targets are the right ones, and this time, let’s finish the job – once and for all.

I don’t want my grandchildren to have to explain to their grandchildren that in 2001 we had the power and the opportunity to wipe out the cowards who kill women and children, but lacked the national resolve to do it.

May God bless America and the freedom for which it stands.

Asa Johnson Sr.

Devil caused this evil
Originaly published Thursday, September 20, 2001

The tragedy that happened on Sept.11 was the worst the U.S. has ever seen. Crying, screaming, suffering and racing for their lives. Death was upon New York. Death, one word nobody likes but evil. The devil was in charge of this war. As the Iranians are laughing and burning our flag, we were crying and praying for our loved ones. Lives are lost every day, but never like this. Some say World War III, some say “Remember the Twin Towers,” war, battle, but really it’s a lesson. There is only one good thing about this war, it’s bringing America back together, like a real country is supposed to be. One thing that really scares me though is that my uncle could die. He lives in Los Angeles, which is a big city and a lot of people live there. I doubt it’s going to be hit though, because of all that security. One thing that I think is very wrong is that all the people in wheelchairs didn’t get medical treatment – that made me disappointed. This tragic moment will be told for generations to come. The three most inspiring words to me are … God bless America.

Callie Hargrave

We are in a war
Originaly published Thursday, September 20, 2001

The terrorist acts of flying innocent people to their deaths while committing suicide was a cowardly act. Some would even say an unforgivable act! I was taught that we should forgive, but feel that any forgiveness at this point would not help the perpetrators, for I believe that they are already feeling the fires of Hell. As a matter of fact I feel quite confident of that fact. We’ve all heard the rhetoric from the Middle East on many occasions that they (our enemies in the region) are in a Holy War and that they have God’s favor when such atrocities are committed.

In what God could a man believe that would justify one committing suicide while taking innocent people to their deaths and expect to be rewarded favorably? I can assure you it’s not the God in which I believe.

Many have asked the question, what would cause a person or persons to have such hatred to commit such an act? I believe that the true answer lies in their fundamental beliefs and God they serve. The hatred these people feel for America, I believe is based on the fact that America was based, founded, built, sustained and is blessed because of the Judeo-Christian beliefs and principles practiced here – the principles of love, compassion, truth, honesty and generosity. The principles so apparently lacking in some countries. I guess that from this perspective, it would be considered a battle of good versus evil – the kind of evil so graphically demonstrated Tuesday morning in New York City and Washington D.C. With these images forever forged in our minds, it’s not too difficult to understand whose side we are on or should be on and pray for those who are not.

A battle is a battle and I feel that appropriate military action should be taken to protect the people of the United States from such acts, including destroying those who are responsible.

We should also remember, as did our ancestors, that we are actually in a war (good vs. evil) and that prayer is one our most powerful and effective weapons. God will prevail. God bless America!

Tony Erwin

Good will overcome evil
Originaly published Thursday, September 20, 2001

An expert on terrorism explains the mindset of these attackers on America as being religious fanatics. They believe the acts they are committing by the ultimate sacrifices of their lives will be rewarded, that they have help and support from their God to destroy human life.

Those of us who believe that good overcomes evil perceive this as ignorance – a radical waste of life.

It was reported that the Koran was found among suspects’ belongings along with a flight instruction manual in Arabic and a fuel calculator. History tells us there have been many attacks on life made in the name of God, apparently a God I don’t know.

As little as we actually know about life and death, I’m convinced that Earth is just a small part of our journey – a tour designed to teach us about good.

It’s disconcerting that some people believe God caused anything that came about by someone’s ignorant choice. God intervenes in people’s lives by invitation only.

I appreciate the media coverage of the attack on America as it brings the American people together in a huddle. I am overwhelmed when I see a display of patriotism, people donating blood and volunteers assisting the hurt and grieved. I’m glad to see people pray. God bless America.

Trish New

Tribute to America
Originaly published Thursday, September 20, 2001

Our country was knocked to its knees as we watched the tragedies in New York, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania unfold on Tuesday.

I have watched as our country has mourned with the families of the victims of this national tragedy and cried with them as well. I believe that the citizens of this country are the greatest. I have seen men and women from all races pull together, no matter how dangerous the task that lay before them is, stand side by side and help with the rescue and recovery of the victims. It is an awesome display of humanity, courage and patriotism.

As I walked into the football stadium on Friday night, I saw concerned school students and faculty collecting money for the American Red Cross to help with this disaster.

I also witnessed another awesome moment. As all the fans from Boyd and Pilot Point were settling into their seats to watch high school football, I heard the announcer say “In observance of the tragedies of this week, everyone who would like to observe a moment of silence, please meet in front of the home bleachers.”

I saw the bleachers from both sides almost empty to be on that field and football players, coaches, cheerleaders and band members make a circle, holding hands and bowing their heads while Josh Stevenson, a Boyd player, stood in the middle of that circle and led a prayer. I felt so honored to be an American, to be in a country where people can come together and pray without fear of being punished. After this prayer, we all returned to our seats, the National Anthem was played and I have never heard it sung so loudly.

In addition to this, members of the Yellowjacket band played “Taps” with the symbol of all this great nation stands for, our American flag, waving proudly in the wind. I don’t believe there was a dry eye in that stadium. As if all this wasn’t enough to make you proud, our Yellowjacket band performed “God Bless America” and again the words of this song rang out so loud that it could be heard above the band.

My hope and prayer is that all Americans take time to realize that we live in the greatest country on earth and we serve an awesome God.

God Bless America.

Sandy Lambert

Don’t let patriotism pass
Originaly published Thursday, September 20, 2001

I would just like to say, that I wish as Americans, we should be more “aware”, of what the American flag represents. Before all of the terror this past Tuesday, I was noticing how a well-known major corporation’s flag was worn and torn beyond repair. Thinking of how disrespectful this was for a national, well-known corporation to have a flag in this shape was unacceptable. Finally, after several weeks, someone took notice and now a new flag hangs.

My point is this, have we become so insensitve to what it means to have the privilege to live in the United States, to be able to fly our flag, and know what it stands for? Or, have we just become “used to” having things within our grasp, with no regard how we received this privilege in the first place…to be able to go wherever we want and to make certain choices. Please take time, and just don’t let this be a passing phase of patriotism, and remember this past Tuesday and how it has changed many lives.

Carol Dowdy

What if this was your last day?
Originaly published Thursday, September 20, 2001

On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, the people who were murdered by the terrorist attacks got up as if it were any other day. I am sure they had breakfast and got dressed, getting ready for their busy day. Little did they know it would be their date with eternity. As they left their homes, they didn’t realize it was the last time they would see their families and loved ones.

They hurried to their jobs or to their flights, not knowing when they entered the WTC or boarded their airplane that an evil plot had been planned against them. I wonder what went through their minds when they realized this would be their last day on earth. Did they tell their families goodbye and that they loved them as they left their homes? Did they say a prayer to start their day? I wonder how many of them were saved? It is so important that we who are left behind learn a lesson from it all.

Tell your husband, your wife, your children how much you love them, how much you care. Take a moment and think about your soul, where would you go if this were your last day? Have you talked to Jesus and asked him to save you? Have you thought as you rose this morning, what if this were your last day? The Bible tells us in Ecclesiastes that there is a time to be born and a time to die. We should cherish every moment with our family, go to church, read our Bible, call our mothers and fathers and tell them that we love them. Live every day to it’s fullest. Hug your kids today. Take time to stop, slow down, tell your loved ones how you feel. Think about eternity and where you will spend it. Because What if it were your last day?

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth being compared with the glory that is about to be revealed to us and in us and for us,” Romans 8:18.

Lisa Plemons

Can’t wait to head home
Originaly published Thursday, September 20, 2001

Hello from Manhattan, (formerly from Decatur, Texas) and I can’t wait to get back to Texas.

What a week and where to start. Currently I am the Vice President of an Israeli Internet security company based in Manhattan. I commute from Texas each week. Tuesday morning, I was on my way to an appointment at 10 a.m. with Morgan Stanley at the World Trade Center. Fortunately for us the meeting wasn’t at 9 a.m.

While walking up to the WTC a little after 9, I saw one building on fire, then I witnessed in disgust as the second plane crashed into the second building. I ran with others to my office which was a few blocks down in the financial district.

After arriving at my office and spreading the news, I heard a frightening, earthquake-like noise, with windows cracking, startling everyone as we ran for cover in the tons of soot that came down on us all.

I reached my apartment and felt somewhat safe, although I was angered and disgusted at having no electricity, water, food or telephone. These are only a few of the needs that some of us take for granted.

It is hard to keep this topic to a 300 word minimum, as I have experienced something that I would only have dreamed of in a Bruce Willis type movie.

I speak to corporate executives each week on hackers and speak of the ‘WWW’ analytically reminding me of the Wild Wild West as there is no security for Internet users today with little intelligence and support of online police. This definitely is true of our country now as I believe we will continue to see terrorism grow.

This is unfortunate for all Americans as our security has been breached and the thought of flying every day as I have for the past few days has brought things back in perspective.

I think of Decatur and getting back to my roots and appreciate the country atmosphere that I was brought up in. I appreciate my father, Bill Austin, very much. I think about getting back to Decatur and removing myself from this rat race and the fear of likely future attacks.

I can talk forever now, but I am still stuck in New York due to canceled flights. I thought I had plenty of time to write to you guys.

Billy Austin
New York City

Prayer is weapon
Originaly published Thursday, September 20, 2001

I would like us to focus on what good things came out of this tragedy. First of all, we have a president who put God first by designating Sept. 14 as a prayer day for our country despite public prayer not being allowed at school events.

We all know prayer and God’s word is the best weapon against evil.

The majority of the countries in the world are joining the U.S.A. as one to bring peace for all.

I would like to thank gas station owners in Decatur for not raising gas prices like some towns have experienced. It is sad that some owners would profit from the attacks!

Let’s pray for the victims, victims’ families, our leaders, our military, military families and peace.

James Randall Clark

Thinking of America
Originaly published Thursday, September 20, 2001

We think of you since this terrible day. We are afflicted by this news. We hope you and all your families are safe. Take care and God bless America. We are with you.

Philippe and Nathalie Fradet

Saint Blais

Freedom is not Free
Originaly published Thursday, September 20, 2001

One of my most prized possessions is a family heirloom that has been handed down in my family for many generations. It is a gun from the Revolutionary War. It symbolizes to me the sacrifices of my progenitors and my duty as their heir to hold up our Constitution inviolate and to protect it from corruption. I feel it is my sacred duty to stand up for freedom no matter what the cost, even unto death. Nothing is more precious than our God-given rights which are protected by our Constitution.

The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 were an attack on the very fabric of America. It is obvious that they seek to destroy American freedom and prosperity. Let it be known to all haters of freedom that we will not be defeated – ever.

Alexander Hamilton warned that war or the threat of war, ” … will compel nations the most attached to liberty to resort for repose and security to institutions which have a tendency to destroy their civil and political rights. To be more safe, they at length are willing to run the risk of being less free.” We cannot allow our civil liberties to be infringed upon. To do so would dishonor the memories of those killed in the terrorist attacks and all Americans who have fought to establish and maintain this free nation.

Our founding fathers took a sacred oath when they embarked on the monumental task of declaring independence and establishing our Republican form of government. This oath is found in the last sentence of the Declaration of Independence, “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, We mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.” This is the legacy that our founding fathers have given to all who have the privilege of calling themselves Americans.

I challenge each and every American to read and understand the Constitution as framed by our founding fathers, so that in the days ahead we can recognize attacks upon it and hold our government officials accountable. We must not sacrifice freedom for security, for in the end, we will loose both.

Finally, much will be required at the hands of Americans in the days ahead in order to protect our great nation. I challenge every American to take the same oath as our founding fathers did. We must pledge our allegiance to our Republic. I want to leave a legacy of freedom for my children and grandchildren. My family pledges to each other and to our nation our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor in the defense of our freedom!

Angela K. Hunter

Daughter writes about tragedy
Originaly published Thursday, September 20, 2001

My daughter, Amy Hart, wrote this when she came home from school on Sept. 11, 2001. Amy is a 14-year-old Bowie High School student.

To all the ones who lost a love
To all the ones who lost a friend
To all the ones who lost family
This goes out to you
Right now you don’t know me
For I am only a minor
But someday you will
For I will be famous someday
You’ll see, someday soon
So keep this information
Close to your heart
And don’t ever let it part
For you loved ones, friends,
And family members
Were a part of me, too
Under the great wing of Christ
That we all share
And yes I know it wasn’t fair
The way they all had to go
And my heart cries deeply
For them so
Cause I didn’t get a chance
To meet them face to face
But I know that Christ knows
And cares for them all
So please don’t worry
And don’t be in a hurry
To be with them right now
For I know you miss them all so
Just as deeply as I do
But you have to remember
You’ll be with them soon enough
And that the ones that are left
Need your help in being strong
Strong enough to hold their heads up high
So that maybe they can face
The light that tomorrow brings them
I don’t understand why they
Had to be the ones to go
I really don’t think anyone does
But I truly believe
That God chose them for a reason
A reason I do not know
But I will find out
When I meet my Lord and Savior
Jesus Christ on Judgment Day
So be strong
Be bold and please hold on
For your life is what’s left of them
And if we ever meet someday
I’d like to find out what
The other part of my family was like
For we were not close
As most Americans are not
But I know that by the power of God
We are all united
So remember this if nothing else
United we stand strong as a nation
Under God
Alone we are the weakest form
Of our enemies

Mary DoByns

Liberty’s praise
Originaly published Thursday, September 20, 2001

New York, and Washigton D.C. have been through a lot these past few days. America needs to stand strong, and hear the Statue of Liberty, as she prays.

This has been a shock to you and me. Lives have been taken in the land of the free. Yes, we see evil, even though it’s hard to face. Material things we can rebuild, but lives we cannot replace. America please help each other.

This is a great time of need. If we all work together, we will surely succeed.

Melissa Tucker

We can’t take care of the whole world
Originaly published Thursday, September 20, 2001

I have been watching the television news with horror and astonishment these past few days. We not only allowed those low-life individuals and their families to come and live here, but we let them be trained here to use our airplanes and passengers as missiles to kill and maim our law abiding and innocent American citizens. This should never have happened in our great nation!

I think we had better watch out for those “Huddled masses longing to be free.” They have almost done us in this time! We need to clean out the undesirables, beef up our national security and military forces to protect us here. We need to tell Vincente Fox to take a hike and keep his citizens down there as well! Protection of our people should be a priority not an after thought! We cannot feed and take care of the whole world. I have been saying this for years.

As for Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, I think two separate accounts should be opened up in Swiss banks with a very obscene amount in each one to be paid to the individuals and/or groups who succeeded in ridding this world of those two low life scums. I do not want any more good Americans even to obtain a Band-Aid size scratch in the extrication of them from the face of the earth.

This would be money well spent and probably other freedom-loving nations will want to sweeten the pot as well.

God Bless America and keep us free!

Henry Jeanne Wolfe

Sad time for Americans
Originaly published Thursday, September 20, 2001

What a sad time for Americans! It just doesn’t make sense to me. If these terrorists felt so strongly for their cause, to die for it, why don’t we know the point they were trying to make? Could it be because they fear our wrath and retibution?

Even in Stephenville people panicked. We had long lines at the gas stations like they weren’t sure gas would still be available tomorrow. We had some opportunist taking advantage of their fear and raise prices. I will trade at those places no longer. Talk about low lifes.

I can’t imagine the horror of finding and picking up body parts. My heart especially goes out to the families of the police, firemen and other rescue workers who died heroic deaths trying to help people trapped in the rubble.

The heroism aboard the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania should be a source of pride and a balm to the grief of those left behind. The passengers fought back and managed to divert the plane from a more heavily populated area. The White House may have been the actual target, I’ve read.

Try to wear as much red, white and blue as you can. Let’s get the whole country into it. Praying for world peace.

Colleen McCool

Now is not time to run scared
Originally published Sunday, September 23, 2001

As an airline pilot with Delta Air Lines for over 12 years, I would like to offer a different view to some of those expressed in your paper recently. I believe that right now is the best time to fly that we have ever had. Numerous new security procedures are already in effect to prevent not only what happened on Sept. 11, but any other conceivable scenarios. This last weekend my wife and I flew as passengers round trip to Boston and have never felt safer. Security personnel are everywhere and they are being extremely meticulous about what they allow to come aboard the aircraft. People were not even allowed to carry their shaving blades and compact mirrors onboard. Do not forget that airline travel has always been safer than traveling by car.

As an American I love seeing all the flags and patriotic spirit, but please do not wave your flag and then go home and pull your money out of the stock market, cancel all your travel plans and put off all your big item purchases. These actions are just what the terrorists wanted; Americans to live in fear. Certainly if you are in jeopardy of losing your job, you need to conserve, but everybody else needs to go on like they were before this tragic attack.

I would also like to remind everybody to give to the many disaster relief funds. Pray for our military personnel and government leaders. As all of us have seen, our lives can be very fragile. I hope each of you are sure of your afterlife, if not visit a local church and find out. God bless America.

Alan Summers

Military service is noble calling
Originally published Sunday, September 23, 2001

The profession of arms is a high and noble calling. Over the past 30 years it has been slandered by those it protects. Many have even questioned the need for any military at all. Now there can be no doubt that America has enemies in the world. We must not be afraid to use all our resources, including the use of tactical nuclear weapons. We must also be willing to accept casualties. I pray they will be at a minimum. But they will come. I urge every American citizen to pray for our civilian leaders and for our military leaders and the young men and women they will command.

I would like to say a word to the young people of our community. Keep your heads up. There is hope. Go about your business. Live your lives. Do not be afraid.

There has been much attention paid to a 16th century so called prophet Nostradamus. This is foolishness. Do not place your trust in a dead Frenchman. Put your faith in Jesus of Nazareth. Before you go to bed tonight read the book of a real prophet, Habakkuk – He can be found in the Old Testament of the Holy Bible. Also to see that there is real hope and comfort, read Psalm 46. God bless you, and God bless America.

Dan Mooney Jr.

America the Beautiful
Originally published Thursday, September 27, 2001

As we all watched in disbelief the tragedy Tuesday, Sept. 11, tears rolled down our cheeks and prayers were immediately in our thoughts. Continuous coverage on television, radio and newspapers brought sadness into our lives. Destruction hundreds of miles away brought thousands across our nation together. We all knew we needed to prove that we would stand proud as Americans.

People from every state nationwide, both young and old, continue to contribute in some form or fashion. American flags, red, white and blue ribbons, patriotic music playing continuously on the radio were just the beginning of our symbolism as Americans. Firefighters, police officers, banks, churches and community leaders gathered to help our brotherhood in New York. There were monetary donations from people of all walks of life. Donations at our blood banks were overwhelming, local school children brought a few extra nickels to put in a bucket and have their local bank match the school’s donation. I can think of at least a hundred different ways in less than a week’s time that we have pulled together to show our pride in our country, to show that we as Americans want the world to know that we still stand tall and proud.

We want to have our country remain America the Beautiful.

We all feel so hopeless at this time, even after participating and doing everything we can just to give that extra helping hand even though we are hundreds of miles away. I feel that we can still do more – just by starting here in our hometown, Decatur.

Start by looking around your neighborhood, church and school yards. Think twice before you toss that cigarette, soft drink can or paper cup out your car window. Pick up trash around your neighborhood, carry a small trash bag in your car for the items you would usually not second guess about throwing out on the streets. Litter around our town shows weakness in our pride in America. Let’s keep our countryside beautiful. Show the world that we are proud – that America is beautiful.

Mattie Sermons

Prayer is the answer
Originally published Thursday, September 27, 2001

Two weeks after:

Still some smoke, still some ashes and still tons of rubble. Officials are asking us to return to normal. How can that happen when over 6,000 people lost their lives in one of the worst attacks ever on the American people? It doesn’t make any difference where you were living on Sept. 11, 2001. If you were alive and breathing, your life should be profoundly changed, forever!

In the past two weeks, I have heard and read many ideas on what we should do and how we should retaliate. Everything from turn the other cheek to hiring “hit men!” What’s that all about? America is supposed to be a Christian nation, based on Christian values. It is because of these very ideals we hold so sacred that so many diverse people want to live here. How many people do you know who have packed up their U-Hauls and moved to another country to live?

In Sunday’s Messenger, a Christian brother, Dan Mooney Jr., wrote perhaps the closest sensible answer to everyone’s why? He said to read Psalm 46. I’d like to expand on that by giving you a greater challenge. Read all the Psalms. On Sept. 10, 2000, God gave me the opportunity to preach in a local church. The Psalm He gave me was Psalm 2. I praise Him daily for the incite He gave me to help me understand such a timely issue. All the answers we need are found in the book that most of you have somewhere in your home, it’s called the Bible. Take it out of that drawer, or off that shelf, dust it off, pray to God for discernment and read, read, read.

If the answers don’t “leap” off the page, pray again, read again. The Bible is the oldest and only proven book on the earth today.

As a nation, we must return to our Christian heritage, we must stand for what is true, we must fight for our God ordained rights. But, in our haste to “right” things, let us remember, everyone, regardless of race, color or creed is a person created by the same God who created us. He is no respector of persons. All God wants is that we should all come to repentance. Seek God’s face – then seek justice.

Carol Giles

Disaster brings people together
Originally published Thursday, September 27, 2001

I just wanted to say that it is good to see that the American people have united together and it is good to see everyone being so considerate and actually nice to each other, but I think it is a shame that it took a national disaster to get everyone together.

Alicia Losoya

Look for more of WCMessenger.com’s special 9/11 tribute at www.wcmessenger.com/911.

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