Editorial: Infamy and courage

By The TimesLedger

Like the day that Pearl Harbor was bombed more than 50 years ago, Sept. 11, 2001 will live in infamy in the hearts of all Americans. It will take days, perhaps weeks, before we understand the full scope of this tragedy. But even in the early hours after two planes leveled the World Trade Center, it was clear that thousands of families lost loved ones.

We will never be the same. We have always been told that New York City was a prime target for terrorists. Now we know it.

Like all Americans, we share the anger and pain that is being felt throughout this city. Like Pearl Harbor, the attack on the World Trade Center was a cowardly act no doubt intended to frighten and demoralize the American people. Like the Japanese generals who ordered the surprise attack on the Naval base at Pearl Harbor, the terrorists who planned and carried out Tuesday’s attack have greatly underestimated the courage and the resolve of the American people.

Our sympathy and prayers go out to all of the families who lost relatives at the World Trade Center, especially those families in Queens. It is likely that by the time you are reading this, President Bush and the American military will have already begun a retaliation against the organizations responsible for this terrorism. Whatever these cowards suffer will be less than they deserve.

As this tragedy unfolded, we were awestruck by the courage of thousands of New Yorkers – firefighters, police, doctors, nurses and other emergency workers – who rushed to the aid of the victims in Lower Manhattan. Many of those dedicated men and women lost their lives when the two towers came crashing down.

But they were not alone. In Queens and the rest of the city ordinary New Yorkers stood in long lines to give badly needed blood. For them, this was both an act of love and an act of defiance. In their own small way, they were sending a message to the world that the spirit of New York had not been crushed.

As the investigation continues into the hijacking of the four jetliners, it appears likely that the terrorists will be linked to Islamic extremists in the Middle East. It will only perpetuate the evil that was experienced Tuesday if in their frustration, anger and fear, all people of the Islamic faith are blamed for the acts of a few extremists.

It did not help for the television cameras to show Palestinian women and children cheering the violence. But our tolerance must not be strained. Queens is the birthplace of religious tolerance in America and it is home to people of every faith from virtually every nation. Churches and synagogues share the borough with Islamic mosques and Hindu and Buddhist temples.

We are proud of the richness of our diversity and we trust that all Queens residents of good will deplore and condemn this terrorism.

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