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Sept. 11 Still Courses Through Society

September 10, 2003

In "Facing Up to a Hard Reality" (editorial, Sept. 8) The Times avoids doing just that. It wants to pretend that the attack on 9/11 was a discrete event, not part of a virulent strain of evil coursing through the Middle East. It wants to continue the holiday from history that began with the end of the Cold War. But 3,000 Americans killed by terrorists in one attack is reality, not fantasy.

Outside of the left, most Americans realize that we are at war and that wars are messy and unpredictable. Sifting through the rhetoric of all those who oppose this war reveals not one logical alternative to the course we are on that will protect our freedom. We have learned anew that the world is a dangerous place, and if you seek to placate those who would harm you, in the end, they will.

Kent Schmidt

La Canada Flintridge

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Re "Ground Zero Now a Center of Disunity," Sept. 7: The New York ground zero activists are justified in feeling that they have been betrayed by President Bush. He has repeatedly shown that he is a shameless opportunist when it comes to the 9/11 tragedy, using it at every turn to advance his political standing. Criticism of his policies has been quickly condemned by him as tantamount to disrespect for the 9/11 victims. He has also invoked the tragedy as an excuse to turn himself into a swaggering international bully. The planning of the Republican convention in New York in September 2004 is just another example of Bush's willingness to use the 9/11 tragedy for his own benefit.

Kathleen Dunham

Costa Mesa

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Now that we have reached the second anniversary of that nightmarish morning of 9/11, here is a nostalgia trip for you. Remember that immediate post-9/11 "united we stand" feeling that suddenly dominated the country and really made it seem that the U.S. was finally uniting against a common enemy that obviously had to be defeated? Even Barbra Streisand had something positive to say. That mood lasted about as long as it took the dust to settle over Lower Manhattan.

Marc Russell

Los Angeles

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As Sept. 11 fast approaches, we tend to think back on what happened and to remember. As a Red Cross volunteer I was able to help out in a way that I will always remember. It gave me the opportunity to bond with fantastic volunteers and, even more important, it gave me the opportunity to do something physical to help. I helped in mass care at the Pentagon. While what we did was very simple and involved handing out supplies to those in need, it gave us the opportunity to talk, to learn and to reach out. Our little tent was right across from the point of impact, so (to us it seemed) we were in the center of the activity. What I think of most as this day of infamy approaches is that everyone was truly united and had one common goal: to fix what had happened. The whole time we were at the Pentagon, I never heard one complaint of how things were going. It was given the name Camp Unity, and it really was.

Besides the physical needs, there were many mental health workers out there, listening and caring and passing out compassion and little teddy bears to all. From the big Army soldiers to the construction workers to anybody in need, the Red Cross was there for them. As I look back to this time, I feel very proud to be an American. I and millions of others (those who stood in long lines to give blood, those who volunteered in many ways, those who donated money) saw our nation at its finest. We all had one goal. That goal was to make things better, and we did.

Susan Hammarlund

Northridge

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