Our thoughts during the tragedy

An open letter to terrorists:
I don't know your name or names — we may never know who you are — so I can't address you personally. Today, you killed several thousands of our friends ... perhaps not people who we knew personally, but people like us.

September 11, 2001

An open letter to terrorists:
I don't know your name or names — we may never know who you are — so I can't address you personally. Today, you killed several thousands of our friends ... perhaps not people who we knew personally, but people like us. People who worked hard to make a living, who loved someone, who were loved by someone, who worried about making a better life for their children and grandchildren, who believed in God and the American Dream, who criticized this country for its insufficiencies and cared enough to try and change things and ensure a better future, not just for us, but for the world. People who leave behind scores of loved ones, friends, pets, neighbors, co-workers, and members of their faiths. Perhaps even people who came from your own country and who sought refuge here.

Your act was a slaughter of the innocent. You are like an insidious cancer that strikes without warning, ravages bodies, tears families apart, and, in the end, can never destroy the soul. You are the ultimate coward.

You may topple buildings, collapse communication systems, disrupt our government, crash our markets, and leave behind the carnage of bodies, but you will never destroy the soul of America. We made this country from the bits and pieces of the rest of the world; we took the best and the worst of every culture and nationality, race and creed, and made an alloy that may be dented, but not even a trial by fire can melt it.

I don't know what god you believe in, or what hateful rhetoric you espouse, or what your misguided political beliefs might be that allow you to do what you did without a fear of eternal damnation. I only know that you may win a battle or two, but you will never win this war. We have the entire history of the world on our side, and no dictator, despot, or mad man has survived as long as America has thrived and prospered. If you accomplished anything, it was to give America a wakeup call, and we will rise up stronger than before.

You are defeated before you've even begun, there in your private Hell and later in your eternal one. Someday, your people may even need our help, and, because we are Americans, we would respond.

May God bless the friends we lost, their families, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. May God continue to bless America, help her to protect us all, and may she continue to shine as a beacon of democracy and hope to the world.

— Jim Willis

I wrote this column on Wednesday, September 19. Our lives have been changed. Like you, I watched in disbelief as the events of last week unfolded on television. The feelings of despair, anger, and eventually pride swept over me and left me emotionally drained. As with many others, I found the help I was looking for in prayer. All of us at Dental Economics offer our prayers for all of the victims and their families.

Many of us have received letters and stories over the Internet. At right is a letter written by Jim Willis that expresses many of my thoughts and feelings.

The American Dental Association has established the ADA American Tragedy Fund to assist victims. Details are on its Web site at www.ada.org.

A few parting thoughts: Do not keep anything for a special occasion, because every day that you live is a special occasion. Spend more time with your family, eat your favorite foods, and visit the places you love. Tell your family and friends how much you love them. Do not delay anything that adds laughter and joy to your life. Every day, every hour, and every minute is special ... and you never know if it will be your last. Praise God and ask his blessings upon you and your loved ones.

Peace and love to all of you and may God bless America!

Joe Blaes, DDS, Editor — e-mail: joeb@pennwell.com

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