LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Memo to the terrorists

Tuesday, September 18, 2001

Your actions Tuesday filled our minds with devastation and our hearts with sorrow. But we're still here.

Today, our schools were open. Our banks were open. Americans are back about their business, utilizing the character and determination that, despite what may appear as confusion from the outside, makes our nation a shining success of freedom and democracy.

We're still here.

Your tactics Tuesday created a sense of agony throughout much of the country, but you picked the wrong target. You see America's wealth and buildings as symbols of America's success or arrogance. But it's not money or buildings that make this country great. It's the character of our people.

And not only did you miss that target badly, we'd hazard a guess that you don't even know where to look. It's not in the Pentagon, the World Trade Center or even the Capitol building or White House. It resides in millions of places around the country. In classrooms, in small mom-and-pop businesses, and in the coffee shop down the street. You couldn't have hijacked enough planes to destroy the character of the American people.

We're still here.

If you did anything, you deepened our resolve. You believe that your actions damaged the American psyche. But what you fail to understand is that each and every act of terrorism galvanizes our citizens against the misguided sense of right and wrong that you possess and profess.

You see, it's our diversity and what it creates that has been strengthened. We know that our freedom to speak and to act drives this country's success.

While you must force your ideology on people, even among your own kind, it's our diversity and willingness to accept other ideas from which we derive our strength.

We will undoubtedly have to change some of our routines. But we don't mind.

It's a small price to pay to maintain the freedom that you deny your comrades.

Today, our shops are open. Mail was delivered. Our students turned back to their lessons and our workers took up the task at hand to rebuild the physical manifestations you attempted to destroy. Our churches, temples and mosques opened their doors to comfort all who came, not a select few.

Our newspapers published the results of your actions and the search for you that will ultimately succeed. But, we're happy to tell you, you failed.

We're still here.

David Stringer

Norman, Oklahoma