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Response to September 11

by Lydia Robertson


Many of us either lost loved ones or have friends who lost loved ones in the September 11 tragedy. Lydia Robertson, a long-time supporter of the Lawyers’ Committee on Nuclear Policy, talks about her mother, Valerie, who was lost, and about her feelings in response.

About Valerie

She taught we children moral & polite behavior & table manners. She encouraged us to learn respect for each other & to talk about our anger rather than to fight & hit. It was a hard lesson. Hitting is so much easier than cooling off & sometimes the other little brat-full sibling seemed so deserving, so deceitful.

She spoke about the greatness of our country and she also spoke about policies, many policies she didn’t like. She wanted civil rights and equal right for ALL Americans and the vote for all Americans. Although she was a democrat, she would always drive anyone who needed to the polls. I remember sitting in the "way back" of the VW microbus and hearing an old bird say, "Why are you doing this? I know you are a democrat and I am a conservative republican." He called her a fool, but she said, "I don’t care how you vote, only that you do vote"

She saw a need she could fill and simply did it. She read that teenaged boys were impossible to place in foster homes. She took in teenaged boys. There is no sure count as to how many children actually came to live in her home; I lost count around 17. And she made each of us feel important.

Terrorism and the Community Response

My city, my community, my friends and my family pulled together BEFORE this tragedy and now even more so. We have always been a great city. Many outside may not have known it or understood that before. But the rest of the country & the world are finding it out. We are diverse & colorful. We are a city of the world.

The world was wounded when the trade center was hit. It is but a flesh wound in the grand scheme of things. I lost my mother, but if her murder can bring the world together the way it has brought this city and countless other places across this country and the world together, we will be better for it. I can be at peace knowing my mother died this way.

As I looked down at my 7 year old’s toothless smile it occurred to me that our front teeth have been knocked out and with them our innocence & naivete.

We are growing up. We have had a terrible loss but we can learn why so many are angry with us. We cannot ignore the world any more. If a small group of angry, sick fascists, can blow up a building in Oklahoma city and drive 767s into the world trade center we must begin to face and educate our selves as to why. These fascists take misguided American foreign policy & twist it into their own tool against us. It is important what we do next. We must not strike out in anger & for revenge. We must wait, cool down, think.

These men did not commit suicide against some American foreign policy. They WANT war with America. They WANT America to bomb Afghanistan into a dustier hell then it already is. They anticipate that, because, to them Afghani lives are unimportant; the Taliban makes that clear in its policies toward women among others.

No, what Osama Bin Laden & those like him want is to create a new generation of young men willing to die for their cause. And what makes young men more riled up than if their innocent families are bombed. If we play into their hands, if we bomb Afghanistan and there are heavy civilian casualties, then we are giving them the army of young terrorists they need. These men are no more Muslims than McViegh was Christian. Do not look at their faith for answers as to why this was done. It has nothing to do with it. Islam and Muslims are not the enemy. Christians and Christianity is not the enemy. Jews and Judaism is not the enemy. The enemy is the fascist who uses these faiths to disguise their true intentions. Chaos, power, absolute rule.

Do not use this tragedy as an excuse to hurt your neighbor, who may look Arab or dress as you may think and Arab might.

My mother would have us find another way to vent. Give blood to the Red Cross, but better yet, give platelets, twice a month for a year. Donate your time to something you would like to see made better. Give money to The Valerie Hanna/Sept. 11 Fund to help support research against biotechnology weapons and the terrible naturally occurring viruses that kill so effectively for which we have yet no antidote.

Let us turn this into something positive in the name of my mom and all the others who died or gave their lives.
















Revised: October 22, 2001.

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