LETTER TO THE EDITOR - Beauty and the beastly

Thursday, October 18, 2001

The leaves on the trees that stand in the shadow of the Capitol Dome are just beginning their brilliant bursts of red, yellow and orange. They are part of a wonderful gift of a season of sights, smells and traditions that God gives us this time of year.

It is hard to imagine that among the autumn beauty I witnessed out of my window this morning, I did not have to look very far to see how things have changed for Americans since the last time we experienced this wonderful season.

This past weekend, the security detail on Capitol Hill reinforced the same windows that I look through to see the beauty of fall with a mylar coating that prevents the windows from shattering in the event of an explosion.

And, just across the Capitol lawn that my office windows look over, the staff of Senator Tom Daschle now deal with a possible exposure to Anthrax via a letter opened this morning.

Yet with the potential for complete fear and chaos that these potential threats and events could create, I still can see members of Congress, their staff members, their families, and visitors to the Capitol walking leisurely among the fall scene outside my window.

And, even after today's developments with a possible Anthrax scare, the House and Senate offices in Washington are still open for business - maybe more aware of possible threats than last week, but still open for business regardless.

While we continue to learn what life might be like, temporarily or long-term, in these post-Sept. 11 world, I suggest that we take a pause from the news of the day, look out our window, and appreciate the fact that the world is still a truly beautiful place.

It is obvious that we must now be aware of things that we may have never considered before. But, being aware and living in fear or panic are very different things. Because, if we do not live our lives while on this planet to the fullest, we will truly be handling a victory to those who seek to drive us to constant fear.

Tom Latham

Iowa Congressman