Saturday, October 30, 2004
A war we didn't start, but one we will end only when we have totally annihilated every last islamofascist butcher, leader, cell, abettor, and sponsor no matter where they are, no matter what it takes, so no family member or friend of ours ever has cause to sign letters like the one below. That's what we're fighting.
- An Open Letter to the American People
- From members of the families of FF John T Vigiano, Ladder 132, FDNY; DET Joseph V. Vigiano, ESU 7, NYPD; Barbara Olson; Tom Burnett; Douglas Hamilton; Jean Hamilton; MAJ Stephen V. Long, USA; Wendy Ruth Faulkner; CPT Charles "Chic" Burlingame, AA 77; Robert David Peraza; Thomas S. Strada; Peter J. Owens, Jr.; Patrick Driscoll; LT Joseph G. Leavey, Ladder 15, FDNY; CM Ken Lewis, AA 77; CM Jennifer Lewis, AA 77; Michael A. Uliano; FF Mark Whitford, Engine 23, FDNY; Sonia Morales Puopolo; Cheryle D. Sincock, CS, Pentagon; Michael Horn; Jack L. D'Ambrosi; Howard G. Gelling, Jr.; Charles Lawrence "Chip" Chan; Roseanne P. Lang; Brendan Lang; FF Paul Tegtmeier, Engine 4, FDNY; Frank Wisniewski; Laura Marie Ragonese-Snik; Michael D. Diehl; FF George C. Cain, Ladder 7, FDNY; William Dimmling; Kaleen Pezzuti; Todd Pelino; Felicia Hamilton; CDR Patrick S. Dunn, USN; Dennis J. Pierce, CS, NY; ET1 Ronald J. Hemenway, USN; Wilson Flagg; Darlene Flagg; Gregory Kamal Bruno Wachtler; FF Tim Haskell, Squad 18, FDNY; BC Tom Haskell, FDNY; FF Kevin J. Smith, Haz-Mat Co. 1, FDNY; LEO George Gerard Howard, PANYNJ, ESU 8; Michael Boyle, Engine 33, FDNY; William H. Pohlmann, CS, NY; Paul Wesley Ambrose, M.D.; Dennis M. Edwards; Peter James Mulligan; Brett Bailey; Robert Coll; Jason David Cayne; Ricardo Quinn, Paramedic, FDNY; H. Joseph Heller; Robert Scandole; LEO Stephen Huczko, PANYNJ, whose brother Richard Huczko, a GE contractor, was killed in Iraq on Mar. 29, 2004; Thomas "Tommy" R. Clark; CPT David T. Wooley, Ladder 4 Engine 54, FDNY; FF Michael Brennan, Ladder 4, FDNY; Edward Strauss, PANYNJ; LT Christopher P. Sullivan, Ladder 111, FDNY; and FF Kenneth Marino, Rescue 1, FDNY;—from the godfather of James Andrew Gadiel;—from friends of the families of Thomas S. Strada; Peter J. Owens, Jr.; and MAJ Stephen V. Long, USA;—from friends of Charles Droz; William Caswell; CPT Vic Saracini, UA 175; SGT Timothy Roy, NYPD; Robert C. Miller; SGT Thomas E. Jurgens, NY St. Ct.; FF Ken Hatten, FDNY; FF Ed Sweeney, FDNY; FF Bill Burke, FDNY; FF Joe Spor, FDNY; Catherine F. MacRae; FF Steven Coakley, Firehouse 217, FDNY; and AA 11 and AA 77 crew members;—from the Sigma Chi fraternity brother of Kevin Francis Cleary;—from friends, from a former shipmate, and from a Naval Academy classmate of CPT Charles "Chic" Burlingame, AA 77;—from the handler and friend of K-9 rescuer Sirius #17;—and from attack survivor Juan A. Cruz-Santiago, CS, Pentagon.
Three years ago, on the day that began as a beautiful September morning, 19 men and their sponsors carried out a brutal and devastating attack on our country, leaving 3,000 innocent men, women and children dead, including our loved ones. In those first agonizing hours, and for weeks and months afterward as we searched for word of their fate, we were aware that the shock and horror of that day was not ours alone. With a gratitude we could not yet express, we felt the strong and steady embrace of our fellow Americans. The words, "Never forget," defiantly written in dust or humbly penned on makeshift memorials, were also permanently etched in our hearts. We will never forget your strength, your courage and your endless generosity.
We speak to you now in the same spirit that you spoke to us then, as Americans, united on behalf of our country. Like many of you, we feel that our nation is poised at a critical moment in history. Like our parents and grandparents before us, we know that the choices we make today will affect our children tomorrow. But we face a new challenge, a new kind of war and an enemy who is different from the enemies faced by earlier generations. This is not an adversary who can be reasoned with or appeased, this is an adversary who has repeatedly demonstrated that its means and ends are one and the same: the wanton slaughter of innocents.
After the attack, President Bush articulated the primary lesson of September 11, that simply reacting to danger after lives are lost is a weak and unacceptable national defense. He believes that taking the fight to the enemy is the best way to ensure that the enemy will not bring death to our doorstep here at home.
Under the President's strong leadership in the war on terror and through the heroic efforts of our military forces, we are a safer country today. Two-thirds of al Qaeda leadership is dead, incarcerated, or on the run, its financing disrupted. The Taliban has been removed from power and training camps in Afghanistan and Iraq have been eliminated. On the domestic front, our dedicated law enforcement agencies are finally able to fight terror the same way they go after drug cartels; terrorists and terrorist cells have been thwarted in upstate New York, New Jersey, Oregon, Illinois and Florida.
The 9/11 Commission has provided this nation with a solid blueprint for going forward in the war on terror. It described the threat that killed our loved ones as a "gathering storm" which went unrecognized and unchecked for too many years and characterized the inability to predict the attack itself as a "failure of imagination." Looking forward, the Commission offered this pointed warning, "Once the danger has fully materialized, evident to all, mobilizing action is easier—but it then may be too late."
Through the prism of 9/11 and presaging the Commission's conclusion, President Bush looked at Iraq and Saddam Hussein's history, his willingness to use chemical weapons in the mass murder of his own citizens, his notorious attempts to acquire nuclear weapons, his record of giving financial aid and sanctuary to global terrorists—including members of al Qaeda—and his repeated refusal to cooperate with U.N. inspectors. He determined that this repressive regime was an intolerable danger to our country. Rather than waiting until it was too late to prevent a fully materialized threat, the President acted. We believe history will support the President's decision.
We speak to you from the heart, as citizens from all across the country and every political stripe. We are Republicans and Democrats, "liberals" and "conservatives," young and old. We are mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, sisters, brothers, sons, daughters and friends. We speak out from a profound sense of obligation to those we have lost and to the country that we love. Guided by core principles, President Bush has steadfastly told us who he is, what he believes and what he will fight for. He is a caring and decisive leader who is not afraid to make hard choices to keep this nation safe, by keeping it strong. He has sent a clear message to America's friends and foes that he will not waver in his resolve as the winds of political fortune change. He will not revert to the failed policies of the past which only served to whet the appetite of those who would destroy us. He will stand firm against our adversaries.
As Americans who have keenly felt the scourge of terrorism, we are inspired and energized to follow the President's lead, to rise to the occasion and get the job done. We are deeply grateful to President Bush, who rallied this nation on that dark September day, who has earned our respect and confidence, and whose leadership we trust to steer this country on the right path.
Three years ago, George W. Bush stood with us and vowed that he would "Never forget."
We stand with him now.
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