Letters to the Editors
Victims' names were a moving tribute
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 15, 2002
On reading the special Sept. 11 section in the St. Petersburg Times, I found myself engrossed in the list of the victims' names offered there. The enormity of this event grew as I looked more closely over individual names, so alike on that page, crowded, almost touching and hugging each other, held together in the rather permanent "bond" of your paper by that fateful day.
I began to imagine each one of them as a distinct person, fully dressed and alive, often with colorful clothes and combinations of clothes, including white shirts and bright red blouses. It was as if my brain were "mouse-clicking" on each name, which then blossomed into this real person. Red is the one color I remember, and perhaps symbolizes the blood of this person, drained away now, leaving the black letters and gray page.
I tried to absorb all these people, not to miss anyone, and to let my emotions run free. Tears were allowed to form, and I hope will bring healing to hurt that I am finding in this memorial "wall" of names.
As I started to wind down in my immersion in this, I turned the page. And it was another aftershock to see an entire other page full of names. My feelings were almost doubled and renewed.
And the final page, describing the piece of paper that blew out of the Trade Center tower and stuck in a truck grill, being opened in Florida like a secret message, was a real and poignant "window" into the former life of that one man, whose name I looked up on the "wall."
I imagine this has been thought of by now, but I suggest that part of any memorial at "ground zero" in New York City be a bronze wall of these names, similar to the Vietnam Memorial.
Human dignity captured
Your Sept. 11 insert was a haunting and beautiful example of human dignity on paper. Thank you.
Sadly, as long as human beings continue to believe their personal religion represents the one and only true voice of God/Allah, etc., hate, oppression and terrorism will continue to be part of life.
Time to get mad
After reading and listening to all the 9/11 stories, it seems like a gigantic funeral service for someone you knew. But it's not a funeral service for people who died; all those people didn't just die, they were killed! And we should get mad! Like a TV murder mystery, go after the perpetrators.
The story in Afghanistan is far from over, and all we know about Osama bin Laden is that he wasn't where we thought he was. We should send out detectives who wear what the locals wear and speak the language of that area. They won't blend in but the dollar is a mighty effective carrot for information.
I say get mad, send out the detectives.
Our unity ignored
Re: Should we expect outsiders to be patriotic?, Sept. 8.
What has happened to Bill Maxwell? I began to read his column and I was stunned to see how he considers himself and other African-Americans to be "outsiders" in referring most of all to the tragedy of Sept. 11.
Does he not realize that many African-Americans lost their lives along with white people and those of many other races? I have thought how this tragedy has united us and brought us together with African-Americans. I am really disappointed that he would be insensitive to this positive coming together. He says that millions of black people, especially males, feel "more like outsiders than ever before." How does he speak for "millions" of black men? I would like to know.
He goes on and on quoting black historians, and he points out from their studies that black people still feel "on the fringe" and threatened more. Well, Mr. Maxwell, I am white and feel "on the fringe" and surely threatened more also, like maybe millions of other white people. Can we ever be positive and let this rhetoric be softer at a time like this?
The Sept. 8 Times was filled with hero stories and tragic stories told up close and personal. Then there was this seemingly out of place stab at society, not recognizing the positive gains that our two races have made together. I can only think of one word to describe it: a "whine."
Re: Should we expect outsiders to be patriotic?
Bill Maxwell has done it again. He's shown what appears to be his single -- or at least most obvious -- tragic flaw: a conviction that he speaks for all black Americans. (This time he limited himself slightly: "I and millions of other blacks, especially males, feel more like outsiders than ever before.")
Oh, really? I know a lot of black men and women who don't share his separate-and-unequal thinking. These are individuals who know as well as Maxwell does -- and as much as most of us do -- how destructive prejudice is. But they'd never consider their lives in America as a reason not to be patriotic.
For a man whose excellent writing shows him to be a widely read, broadly educated individual, he seems to lack the ability to view both black and white Americans as individuals. Instead he portrays them as stereotyped outsiders and insiders, victims and victimizers.
Re: Sympathy for the Palestinians, letter, Sept. 8.
Some people have short memories. I hope the Times will reprint pictures of the Palestinians dancing in the street at this time last year. There will be current celebrations among their like-minded brothers to commemorate the bloodbath. The terrorist leaders encouraged young men to murder themselves and innocents among us.
The Palestinians encourage similar behavior from their own children. And their clerics promise the young men a reward in paradise for such behavior. These are far from American values. Until the Palestinians replace their high regard for terrorism with concern for the well-being of their children, such sympathy is misplaced.
No birthright citizenship
Re: Opportunists discover America's birthright citizenship, Sept. 8.
A hearty thank you to Robyn Blumner for writing on "birthright citizenship." As the child of a legal immigrant who saw the effort to learn the goofy language and fit into the culture of the once-alien land, I have no respect whatsoever for any person who enters the country outside of legal parameters.
I cannot support an argument that the 14th Amendment was meant to grant citizenship to the children of coincidentally, conveniently or illegally present foreign visitors. I oppose it strongly.
When airplanes bring in loads of pregnant women here just long enough to give birth it is an obvious abuse, and must be halted.
When the state of California tries to sue the U.S. government for the expense of treating the people taking advantage of this reading of the law, there is obvious abuse and must be halted.
A case of incompetence
I have this to ask of Broward County Supervisor of Elections Miriam Oliphant: Is it the fault of the voting machine manufacturer, Election Systems & Software, that Broward County poll workers had a mere three hours training (as opposed to 10 to 12 hours in other counties)?
Is it the fault of Election Systems & Software that many Broward County poll workers walked out and closed early? Is it the fault of Election Systems & Software that Broward County did not see fit to discover any bugs in the system before Election Day?
Is it the fault of Election Systems & Software that Broward County poll workers misplaced the ballot cartridges? Is it even the fault of Election Systems & Software that no one from Broward County called to make sure a service technician would be on hand Election Day?
Election Systems & Software may be accused of stupidly poor customer service only. The charge of incompetence, however, lies solely with Oliphant.
A crisp analysis
Re: The eagerness to take out Hussein, Sept. 8.
Kudos to Martin Dyckman for his analysis of the issues confronting peace-loving people relating to the potential of imminent hostilities with Iraq.
As a confirmed conservative it isn't often that I find myself agreeing with Times' opinion writers.
In this case, Dyckman listed the critical issues with maximum clarity and a minimum of partisan consideration. Further, he seemed to show a genuine human concern for the difficulty that our leaders in Washington face in the coming days and weeks. Hats off.
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