The following was written by Business Journal Publisher Ted Owen to the staff of this newspaper the day after last week's devastating terrorist attacks on the East Coast.
I want to begin by thanking everyone yesterday who tried desperately to work even though we were all in shock over the attack on our country by terrorists. I served in Vietnam in l967 and l968 and saw death and destruction daily, but it was different yesterday.
On Monday evening we all went to bed thinking about loved ones, plans for the future, work the next day, and so on. We awoke to see our country literally under attack by fanatics. Our world for months and years to come will never be the same.
Things will be different.
The casualty numbers will be horrific. We could lose as many people in this tragedy that died in all of Vietnam. Many of you were either not born yet or too young to remember Vietnam.
Each evening from l965 through l972 we would go home and watch the evening news of the war. I remember meeting Dan Rather in DaNang 33 years ago when he was a young reporter for CBS giving a report hiding behind a grove of trees as a major battle was being waged in front of him.
Yesterday, Rather , now in his 60's , was behind a desk in New York describing a major battle being waged in New York and Washington. I'm sure he had flashbacks as I did yesterday.
We will have missing person stories for months as the search for the dead begins. We were shocked by the disappearance of Chandra Levy a few weeks ago. What about the hundreds of dead who will never be found and eventually just be declared dead? What a difference.
Take a look at today's newspapers and you will see the faces of fear and tragedy in the attacks. I was particularly moved by the accounts of people in the World Trade Center describing the descent down the dozens of stairs to safety. As they were moving down as fast as possible, dozens of New York City firemen and policemen were ascending rapidly to rescue others above.
Firemen were left on each floor on eighty or so floors to guide people down to safety ... then the buildings collapsed and they all perished. More than 300 heroes stood their ground so others could live.
We will never know or hear about the hundreds of acts of heroism that occurred yesterday because many of the participants are now gone. Gone from their families, friends and colleagues forever.
Those hundreds of heroes died trying to save the life of someone else because that is what America is all about: A country where every race, creed, color and nationality that have banded together to live the most envied life style in the world. To live in a democracy where freedom reins supreme. You can burn the American flag here and not be executed in a public square or driven over by a tank.
Our freedom to live our lives as we wish was attacked yesterday. Our president said that "Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America." I believe him! He also said, "Make no mistake; the United States will hunt down and punish those responsible for these cowardly acts." I agree with him! Lastly he said, "America will make no distinction between the terrorists who turned four hijacked commercial airliners into lethal missiles and foreign governments that may have harbored them." I support him!
Lastly, remember this. We have the mightiest military forces in the world and that while an army of cowards has attacked us, they will be sought and punished. This is by all accounts another day of infamy, but believe me our enemy does not know the meaning of what it means to live in the greatest country on earth but they will feel our resolve.
Please keep in mind that America was created by immigrants who wanted freedom from their oppressors and they banded together to create the greatest nation on earth. We cannot let our citizens who look different become the targets of our anger and revenge. We have to trust that our nation's leaders will track down the killers and deal with them accordingly.
We cannot become terrorists ourselves by condemning our own citizens because they look like the people from the country that is held responsible. We cannot treat them like we did the people who looked Japanese in World War II and put them in camps and brandished them the same way we did the Japanese government soldiers who attacked us. Remember we are a nation built on the foundation that all people are created equal here. That philosophy is what our enemies attacked yesterday.
Say a prayer today for those who perished yesterday and for those who are recovering from their wounds and for their families and friends as they mourn them.
You can help the healing by smiling at people more often and greeting everyone you come in contact with by a positive greeting. God bless America and long may it reign supreme.