News From The Woods - September 11, 2001

NEWS FROM THE WOODS

By Bob Ketchum

Originally Published September 11, 2001


"The Day The World Changed"


The Baxter Bulletin
Sept. 11: The day America changed

By ARMANDO RIOS
Bulletin Staff Writer

Sept. 11 began as any normal day here in Mountain Home and throughout the world. People went to work and to school, with no idea of what was about to happen or even an inkling that something like that could happen in the United States.

In Boston and New York, airliners took off on a cross-country route.

7:59 a.m. -- American Airlines Flight 11, a Boeing 767, departs Boston for Los Angeles with 92 people on board.
8:01 a.m. -- United Flight 93 departs Newark International Airport for San Francisco with 45 people on board.
8:14 a.m. -- United Airlines Flight 175, a Boeing 767, departs Boston from Logan International Airport for Los Angeles with 65 people on board.
8:45 a.m. - American Airlines Flight 11 crashes into the north tower of the World Trade Center in New York City.

Morning news shows were going on with their banter and light news when word came that an airplane had struck one of the towers of the World Trade Center and suddenly, all the nation's eyes turned to that horrific scene, which was replayed countless times for days.

9:03 a.m. -- United Airlines Flight 175 crashes into the south tower of the World Trade Center.

If that were not enough, video and photos of a second airliner crashing into the other tower went over the airways.

9:31 a.m. -- President Bush calls the crashes "an apparent terroristic attack."

People were suddenly glued to their TV sets or the radio, trying to comprehend that it was no accident, but that they were apparently planned attacks.

9:40 a.m. -- American Airlines Flight 77, a Boeing 757, crashes into the west side of the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., collapsing a side of the building. It took off from Dulles Airport en route to Los Angeles with 64 people on board.

Soon, word came of the airliner crashing into the Pentagon, the headquarters of the strongest nation in the world. Authorities feared other airliners were being used as weapons of mass destruction.

9:49 a.m. -- The Federal Aviation Administration shuts down airports nationwide.

The Federal Aviation Administration ordered all planes grounded in the United States and started to turn back other airliners coming into the United States while federal officials tried to determine what had happened.

It would be several days before airplanes could go up again. The only thing visible in the sky would be either Air Force One, with its ever vigilant air cover, or U.S. military flights keeping an eye on our skies to prevent any further attacks.

Gary Williams, Baxter County Regional Airport manager, said the FAA had called him to verify he had received word that no civilian aircraft were to take off.

Four Big Sky flights had been scheduled to arrive and depart on Sept. 11. All were canceled. A flight on its way to Mountain Home from Hot Springs had to remain in Hot Springs.

9:50 a.m. -- Two World Trade Center, the second tower hit, collapses.
10:29 a.m. -- One World Trade Center collapses.
10:37 a.m. -- United Airlines Flight 93 from Newark, N.J., to San Francisco crashes 80 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, in Shanksville, Pa.
10-11:30 a.m. -- Government buildings around the country are evacuated, including the Capitol and the White House. The United Nations closes down. The Securities and Exchange Commission closes all U.S. financial markets for the day.

There was speculation everywhere about who could have masterminded such a horrific deed, and attention soon focused on a slightly familiar name, Osama bin Laden, an indicted Saudi terrorist who was suspected to have been behind other attacks on America and its forces.

2:51 p.m. -- The U.S. Navy sends missile destroyers and other equipment to New York and Washington, D.C.
5:25 p.m. -- A third building, Seven World Trade Center, collapses, damaged from the morning's crashes.

The INS developed a list of suspected terrorists, and law enforcement officials began rounding up possible suspects.

In Mountain Home, as in many other communities, as the day's events unfolded, people began to panic. Gas stations were scenes of long lines and long waits of vehicles waiting to fill up their gasoline tanks, afraid that the attacks in New York and on the Pentagon, would affect gas availability and prices. In the panic, some gas stations raised prices.

Gov. Mike Huckabee issued a statement calling on gas station owners to voluntarily freeze prices on gasoline.


September 11, 2001

An Open Letter to Terrorists

I don't know your name, or names - we may never know who you are - so I can't address you personally. Today, you killed several thousands of our friends...perhaps not people who we knew personally, but people like us. People who worked hard to make a living, who loved someone, who were Loved by someone, who worried about making a better life for their children and grandchildren, who believed in God and the American Dream, who criticized this country for its insufficiencies and cared enough to try and change things and ensure a better future, not just for us, but for the world. People who leave behind scores of loved ones, friends, pets, neighbors, coworkers, and members of their faiths. Perhaps even people who derived from your own country and who sought refuge here. Your act was a slaughter of the innocents.

You are like an insidious cancer that strikes without warning, ravages bodies, tears families apart, and in the end can never destroy the soul. You are the ultimate coward.

You may topple our buildings, collapse our communication systems, disrupt our government, crash our markets, and leave behind the carnage of bodies, but you will never destroy the soul of America. We made this country from the bits and pieces of the rest of the world; we took the best, the worst of every culture and nationality, race and creed, and made an alloy that may be dented, but not even a trial by fire can melt.

I don't know what God you believe in, or what hateful rhetoric you espouse, or what your misguided political beliefs might be that allows you to do what you did today without a fear of eternal damnation. I only know that you may win a battle or two, but you will never win this war. We have the entire history of the world on our side, and no dictator, despot, or madman has survived as long as America has thrived and prospered. If you accomplished anything at all today, it was to give America a wake-up call, and we will now rise up stronger than before. You are defeated before you've even begun, there in your private hell and later in your eternal one. Someday your people may even need our help, and because we are America, we would respond.

May God bless the friends we lost, their families, friends, neighbors and coworkers. We will help them rebuild from the ashes. May God continue to bless America, help her to protect us all, and may she continue to shine as a beacon of democracy and hope to the rest of the world.

Copyright Jim Willis 2001 -
In deepest sympathy to those who have lost a loved one.
Permission to share.

Published Wednesday, September 12, 2001
Copyright 2001 Miami Herald
All Rights Reserved

We'll go forward from this moment

It's my job to have something to say.

They pay me to provide words that help make sense of that which troubles the American soul. But in this moment of airless shock when hot tears sting disbelieving eyes, the only thing I can find to say, the only words that seem to fit, must be addressed to the unknown author of this suffering.

You monster. You beast. You unspeakable bastard.

What lesson did you hope to teach us by your coward's attack on our World Trade Center, our Pentagon, us? What was it you hoped we would learn? Whatever it was, please know that you failed.

Did you want us to respect your cause? You just damned your cause.

Did you want to make us fear? You just steeled our resolve.

Did you want to tear us apart? You just brought us together.

Let me tell you about my people. We are a vast and quarrelsome family, a family rent by racial, social, political and class division, but a family nonetheless. We're frivolous, yes, capable of expending tremendous emotional energy on pop cultural minutiae -- a singer's revealing dress, a ball team's misfortune, a cartoon mouse. We're wealthy, too, spoiled by the ready availability of trinkets and material goods, and maybe because of that, we walk through life with a certain sense of blithe entitlement.

We are fundamentally decent, though -- peace-loving and compassionate.

We struggle to know the right thing and to do it. And we are, the overwhelming majority of us, people of faith, believers in a just and loving God.

Some people -- you, perhaps -- think that any or all of this makes us weak. You're mistaken. We are not weak. Indeed, we are strong in ways that cannot be measured by arsenals.

IN PAIN

Yes, we're in pain now. We are in mourning and we are in shock. We're still grappling with the unreality of the awful thing you did, still working to make ourselves understand that this isn't a special effect from some Hollywood blockbuster, isn't the plot development from a Tom Clancy novel. Both in terms of the awful scope of their ambition and the probable final death toll, your attacks are likely to go down as the worst acts of terrorism in the history of the United States and, probably, the history of the world. You've bloodied us as we have never been bloodied before.

But there's a gulf of difference between making us bloody and making us fall. This is the lesson Japan was taught to its bitter sorrow the last time anyone hit us this hard, the last time anyone brought us such abrupt and monumental pain. When roused, we are righteous in our outrage, terrible in our force. When provoked by this level of barbarism, we will bear any suffering, pay any cost, go to any length, in the pursuit of justice.

I tell you this without fear of contradiction. I know my people, as you, I think, do not. What I know reassures me. It also causes me to tremble with dread of the future.

In the days to come, there will be recrimination and accusation, fingers pointing to determine whose failure allowed this to happen and what can be done to prevent it from happening again. There will be heightened security, misguided talk of revoking basic freedoms. We'll go forward from this moment sobered, chastened, sad. But determined, too. Unimaginably determined.

THE STEEL IN US

You see, the steel in us is not always readily apparent. That aspect of our character is seldom understood by people who don't know us well. On this day, the family's bickering is put on hold.

As Americans we will weep, as Americans we will mourn, and as Americans, we will rise in defense of all that we cherish.

So I ask again: What was it you hoped to teach us? It occurs to me that maybe you just wanted us to know the depths of your hatred. If that's the case, consider the message received. And take this message in exchange:

You don't know my people. You don't know what we're capable of. You don't know what you just started.

But you're about to learn.

THE LADY


By: Dana Holland

I wonder what she thought
As she stood there, strong and tall.
She couldn't turn away,
She was forced to watch it all.

Did she long to offer comfort
As Her country bled?
With her arm forever frozen
High above her head.

She could not shield her eyes
She could not hide her face
She just stared across the water
Keeping Freedom's Place.

The smell of smoke and terror
Somehow reduced her size
So small within the harbor
But still we recognized.....

How dignified and beautiful
On a day so many died
I wonder what she thought,
And I know she must have cried.

WHAT A DIFFERENCE A DAY MAKES

On Monday we emailed jokes...
On Tuesday we did not.

On Monday we thought that we were safe and secure...
On Tuesday we learned better.

On Monday we were talking about heroes as being athletes...
On Tuesday we relearned what a "hero" meant.

On Monday we were irritated that our rebate checks had not arrived...
On Tuesday we gave money away to people we had never met.

On Monday there were people fighting against praying in schools...
On Tuesday you would have been hard pressed to find a school where someone was not praying.

On Monday people argued with their kids about picking up their room...
On Tuesday the same people could not get home fast enough to hug their kids.

On Monday people were upset that they had to wait 6 minutes in a fast food drive through line...
On Tuesday people didn't care about waiting up to 6 hours to give blood for the dying.

On Monday we waved our flags signifying our cultural diversity...
On Tuesday we waved only the American flag.

On Monday there were people trying to separate each other by race, sex, color and creed...
On Tuesday they were all holding hands.

On Monday we were men or women, black or white, old or young, rich or poor, gay or straight, Christian or non-Christian...
On Tuesday we were Americans.

On Monday politicians argued about budget surpluses...
On Tuesday, grief stricken, they sang 'God Bless America'.

On Monday the President was going to Florida to read to children...
On Tuesday he returned to Washington to protect our children.

On Monday we had families...
On Tuesday we had orphans.

On Monday people went to work at the World Trade Center and Pentagon as usual...
On Tuesday, they walked through the doors for the last time.

On Monday people were fighting the 10 commandments on government property...
On Tuesday the same people voiced, "God help us all" and said "Thou shalt not kill".

It is sadly ironic how it takes horrific events to place things into perspective, but it has. The lessons learned September 11th 2001, the things we have taken for granted, the things that have been forgotten or overlooked, hopefully will never be forgotten again.

Editorial from a Romanian newspaper

An Ode to America

Why are Americans so united? They don't resemble one another even if you paint them! They speak all the languages of the world and form an astonishing mixture of civilizations. Some of them are nearly extinct, others are incompatible with one another, and in matters of religious beliefs, not even God can count how many they are.

Still, the American tragedy turned three hundred million people into a hand put on the heart. Nobody rushed to accuse the White House, the army, the secret services that they are only a bunch of losers. Nobody rushed to empty their bank accounts. Nobody rushed on the streets nearby to gape about. The Americans volunteered to donate blood and to give a helping hand. After the first moments of panic, they raised the flag on the smoking ruins, putting on T-shirts, caps and ties in the colors of the national flag. They placed flags on buildings and cars as if in every place and on every car a minister or the president was passing. On every occasion they started singing their traditional song: "God Bless America!".

Silent as a rock, I watched the charity concert broadcast on Saturday once, twice, three times, on different TV channels. There were Clint Eastwood, Willie Nelson, Robert de Niro, Julia Roberts, Cassius Clay, Jack Nicholson, Bruce Springsteen, Silvester Stalone, James Wood, and many others whom no film or producers could ever bring together. The American's solidarity spirit turned them into a choir. Actually, choir is not the word. What you could hear was the heavy artillery of the American soul. What neither George W. Bush, nor Bill Clinton, nor Colin Powell could say without facing the risk of stumbling over words and sounds, was being heard in a great and unmistakable way in this charity concert.

I don't know how it happened that all this obsessive singing of America didn't sound croaky, nationalist, or ostentatious! It made you green with envy because you weren't able to sing for your country without running the risk of being considered chauvinist, ridiculous, or suspected of who-knows-what mean interests.

I watched the live broadcast and the rerun of its rerun for hours listening to the story of the guy who went down one hundred floors with a woman in a wheelchair without knowing who she was, or of the Californian hockey player, who fought with the terrorists and prevented the plane from hitting a target that would have killed other hundreds or thousands of people. How on earth were they able to bow before a fellow human?

Imperceptibly, with every word and musical note, the memory of some turned into a modern myth of tragic heroes. And with every phone call, millions and millions of dollars were put in a collection aimed at rewarding not a man or a family, but a spirit which nothing can buy.

What on earth can unite the Americans in such a way? Their land? Their galloping history? Their economic power? Money? I tried for hours to find an answer, humming songs and murmuring phrases which risk of sounding like commonplaces. I thought things over, but I reached only one conclusion.

Only freedom can work such miracles!

New York City Impressions

By Cal Thomas
Syndicated columnist
September 27, 2001

Crosswalk.com News Channel - Think of the largest picture you’ve ever seen. A giant screen television? Not big enough. The Jumbotron in Times Square? Not large enough. An IMax screen that stretches from floor to ceiling and wall to wall in a movie house? Still too small.

I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain. I’ve seen devastation from earthquakes and victims of mass murder. I have not seen anything approaching the concentrated devastation in lower Manhattan where the World Trade Center once stood. Television does not, indeed could not, convey the magnitude of the disaster.

While the cleanup is proceeding magnificently, a light gray film clings to every building. Some windows are unbroken, others shattered. At street level, messages have been traced in the soot. “New York will survive,” says one. “This will make us stronger,” says another.

A New York City police officer gestures at the ruins and says, “Look at this. Here is the result of years of illegal immigration, softness on crime, cutting the defense budget and a lack of attention to right and wrong in this country.” None of the colleagues standing with him disagrees. He asks that his name not be used. “I’m not politically correct,” he says with a laugh.

Parking lots near “ground zero” resemble junkyards. Wrecked cars await, not their owners but the scrap heap. The metal is twisted, like the minds that did this. A delivery truck looks like it was involved in a multi-car pileup. An emergency vehicle is sandwiched in a heap of totaled cars, the words “Paramedics Long Island College Hospital” still visible.

It’s as if someone pushed the “pause” button on the VCR, freezing the action while ash was poured on the city. The windows of some parked vehicles are rolled up but soot has found a way inside; it covers the seats and dashboards.

What once might have been considered litter is now debris. I pick up a piece of Sheetrock formerly part of an office wall. An unopened bottle of soda lies next to a nearly empty sports health beverage. There are forms and other evidence of business, which, on September 11, was anything but usual. The face of the Millennium Hotel has been torn off. Is this the other side of that “bridge to the 21st century”?

Then there are the notices. We have seen them on television: the names of the missing, their pictures, dates of birth, physical characteristics and numbers to call. When you see them block after block, covering entire walls and storefront windows; when you lose count of their number and are overwhelmed by the pleas for information, that’s when the horror and the ache for your fellow countrymen; the injustice and even the discouragement and depression kick in.

Another generation fought World War II to defeat one form of evil. Now a mutant strain has re-emerged in the form of religious fanaticism. It must be defeated by this generation if the next is to enjoy the liberty passed on to us.

Today’s evil does not fight fair. We would happily take on the “evildoers,” as President Bush calls them, in a boxing ring or on a battlefield, but our foes this time are self-centered fanatics. Not one of them has the moral strength of a New York City firefighter or police officer. Those who hide behind their religion to do evil are worse than infidels. It is for such people that Hell was created. The New Yorker magazine said of those behind the attacks: “The metaphor of war — and it is more metaphor then description — ascribes to the perpetrators a dignity they do not merit, a status they cannot claim, and a strength they do not possess.” They are terrorists, not warriors. They are thugs, not theologians.

The “peace groups” in Union Square may now be singing, “All we are saying is give peace a chance,” but the majority of Americans believe we have had enough of that attitude and it’s time to give war a chance so the next generation might enjoy the peace we have just lost.

© 2001 TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.

"An open letter to terrorists and those who harbor and support you."

From an American Grandfather.

I am told by the leaders of my government that you are intelligent people. In light of your actions, I am having growing difficulty believing that. At the very least, it has become increasingly obvious that you lack a fundamental comprehension of my psychology as an American.

I hear on our news broadcasts that your rage is fueled by my support of Israel. It has never been about nationality or religious faith never about Jew vs. Arab. I thought you would finally have understood that when I sent my children into harm's way in order to protect the innocent citizens of Arab Kuwait from the savage wolf who would devour them for his own gain. It has everything to do with the lessons taught to me by my father - and his before him for many generations before the white man came to this land we call America.

I have a vivid memory of coming home, as a boy of about nine years of age, and telling my father of feeling helpless horror as I watched the neighborhood bully unmercifully torment a boy even smaller than myself. My father reflected for a long moment, then quietly inquired of me as to what I had done about it. I said that I had watched until it was over and had then come home.

The look in his eyes penetrated me to my core for he had never looked at me in that way before. He said that he was deeply ashamed of me and he sent me to my room with instructions to think about what had happened. It seemed hours before he came to my door. He sat beside me on my bed, and, for a painfully long while, he said nothing. When finally he spoke, he explained, "There will always be among us dishonorable men who are devoid of humanity and compassion. They are but naked animals and an empty shell of what truly is a man. They attempt to fill their emptiness by the exercise of power over others, thinking that it makes them whole men. Often they are enraged that they do not even understand their own emptiness, what it is that they lack.

When these men are also cowards, they disguise themselves as sheep among the flock and attack from the shadows. This is the vilest form of sub-human behavior for even animals attack openly when they must attack.

When humanity and integrity are present in a man, he expresses them as compassion. When compassion and strength achieve perfect balance within a man, they manifest as wisdom. The compassionate man feels the pain of others. The wise man protects others from pain. For, if you watch and do nothing to protect others, who will come to your aid when you alone remain and the bully comes for you?

Some things are far more important than your personal safety and freedom from pain. If ever again you see someone being hurt, protect him, even if you are certain to be injured in the process. Then I will know that I have truly raised a man."

Anyone who understands the impact of this lesson - and how deeply it runs in the man I have become, will understand my unflinching willingness to sacrifice my children in defense of Arab and Jew alike when they are threatened by the bullies and cowards of the world. And please do not insult my intelligence with claims of Jewish treatment of Palestinians. I am old enough to retain vivid memories of 1948.

I remember the excitement of the Jews over the prospect of governing "with" them. Their reaction, and that of their neighbors, was to attempt' to finish what the Nazis could not -Repeatedly

Intelligent men? I, for one, am stunned by the monumental stupidity of your arrogance. Did you actually think that only Americans would occupy the World Trade Center? You have but fired the first pitiful salvo of World War III for the entire world is now preparing to come after you, your host, your financiers and your supporters. And please, do not listen to what I say. You would do far better to watch the sky.

I must say that I owe you a profound debt of gratitude. Not for what you have done or what you have unleashed upon the world, but for what you have accomplished. For not one among us could have accomplished it. On Monday, September 10, 2001, we were a divisive, apathetic nation. Our young people had nothing by which to identify with our history or heritage; our people were divided by factions of religion and skin color; our government was polarized and paralyzed by political party affiliation, able to agree upon nothing; the military had difficulty obtaining volunteers and most of us simply changed TV channels in response to Red Cross pleas for blood donations.

Your actions have changed all of that in a way that has occurred only twice before in the history of this nation - once in 1776 and again on December 7, 1941. The worst in the worst of Allah's children has brought out the best in the best of Allah's children and, for this, I thank you. Since your cowardly act, Muslim, Jew, Christian, black, white, yellow and brown have stood shoulder to shoulder for hours in the hot sun to donate blood for the injured. Our government has suddenly become totally united in its purpose. Our military is having difficulty handling the flood of volunteers from among our young people. Our flag makers report that there is no way humanly possible that they can keep up with the demand - shipments are sold out within minutes. You have accomplished a miracle that only God could have anticipated.

And, it would seem, the hand of God was present even in the date that you selected for your attack, for you could not have chosen a date more in keeping with a reawakening of American pride and purpose. There is in America a nationwide system for seeking help in times of emergency. Every American knows that, when threatened, he can pick up any telephone and dial 911 and help is immediately on the way to assist and protect him. By selecting September, (our 9th month), 11, 2001 to exhibit your cowardice, you unwittingly placed a 911 call that has brought all of America together in a way that brings tears of joy and pride to my eyes. No longer is our battle cry, "Remember Pearl Harbor!" Thanks to you and your kind it will now and forevermore be, "Remember 911!" whenever the innocents of any nation find themselves threatened by cowards with guns.

I do not, for a moment, deny that you hurt me. Far too many parents and children now go to bed wondering where their loved ones are. And, yes, I am momentarily reeling. But it is from the sudden realization that I share the planet with anyone capable of such an atrocity against the humanity of so many nations.

In his Inaugural Address in Washington, D.C. on January 20, 1961, President John F. Kennedy said, "Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty." He was talking about the liberty of all men, of all faiths, of all nations.

You need to understand that the truth of that statement is the very fabric of who and what I am. I wish neither to rule nor to inflict injury upon the innocents of any nation. I am the lion who sleeps with God's lambs to protect them from ravenous wolves that would devour them. Your 911 call has awakened the lion and now I hunger for the flesh of wolves.

In closing let me state, Muhammad taught that Allah is a God of love - yet you have the unmitigated gall to bastardize Islam to suit your own personal, unholy agenda. Who now is the infidel?

Sincerely,
The Reverend Charles Stanley

I have composed a song I call "Twin Towers". The song, an instrumental, is pretty self-explanitory. It sort of wrote itself during the dark days following the September 11th terrorist attacks on the US. I suppose in a way it was a means for me to attain some kind of closure for my own private feelings about this tragedy. You can listen to it here. (Be patient. This 6 minute RealAudio file will take about 8 minutes to download using a 56K modem.)


HERE IS A MESSAGE FROM MY THREE YEAR OLD SON, ROBERT


CLICK ON THE FLAG ABOVE

(You will need RealPlayer to view it)

I AM THE FLAG OF THE
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

I am the flag of the United States of America.

My name is Old Glory.

I fly atop the world's tallest buildings.
I stand watch in America's halls of justice.

I fly majestically over institutions of learning.
I stand guard with power in the world.

Look up ... and see me.

I stand for peace, honor, truth and justice.
I stand for freedom.

I am confident.
I am arrogant.
I am proud.

When I am flown with my fellow banners,
my head is a little higher,
my colors a little bit truer.

I bow to no one!

I am recognized all over the world.
I am worshipped - I am saluted.

I am loved - I am revered.
I am respected -- and I am feared.

I have fought in every battle of every
war for more then 200 years.

I was flown at Valley Forge, Gettysburg,
Shiloh and Appomattox.

I was there at San Juan Hill,
the trenches of France,
in the Argonne Forest, Anzio, Rome
and the beaches of Normandy, Guam.
Okinawa, Korea and KheSan, Saigon, Vietnam.
They all know me.

I was there.
I led my troops,
I was dirty, battleworn and tired,
but my soldiers cheered me
And I was proud.

I have been burned, torn and trampled
on the streets of countries I have helped set free.
It does not hurt, for I am invincible !
I have been soiled upon, burned, torn
and trampled on the streets of my country.
And when it's by those whom I've served in battle -
it hurts.

But I shall overcome - for I am strong.

I have slipped the bonds of Earth
and stood watch over the uncharted
frontiers of space from my vantage point
on the moon.

I have borne silent witness
to all of America's finest hours.
But my finest hours are yet to come.

When I am torn into strips
and used as bandages
for my wounded comrades on the battlefield,
When I am flown at half-mast to honor my soldier,
Or when I lie in the trembling arms
of a grieving parent
at the grave of their fallen son or daughter,

I am proud.

The following words were spoken by the late Red Skelton on his television program as he related the story of his teacher, Mr. Laswell, who felt his students had come to think of the Pledge of Allegiance as merely something to recite in class each day.

Now, more than ever, listen to the meaning of these words.

(click HERE to hear a RealAudio clip of the original speech by Red Skelton)

"I've been listening to you boys and girls recite the Pledge of Allegiance all semester and it seems as though it is becoming monotonous to you. If I may, may I recite it and try to explain to you the meaning of each word?"

I -- me, an individual, a committee of one.

Pledge -- dedicate all of my worldly goods to give without self pity.

Allegiance -- my love and my devotion.

To the flag -- our standard, Old Glory, a symbol of freedom. Wherever she waves, there's respect because your loyalty has given her a dignity that shouts freedom is everybody's job!

United -- that means that we have all come together.

States -- individual communities that have united into 48 great states. Forty-eight individual communities with pride and dignity and purpose; all divided with imaginary boundaries, yet united to a common purpose, and that's love for country.

And to the republic -- a state in which sovereign power is invested in representatives chosen by the people to govern. And government is the people and it's from the people to the leaders, not from the leaders to the people.

For which it stands, one nation -- one nation, meaning "so blessed by God"

Indivisible -- incapable of being divided.

With liberty -- which is freedom -- the right of power to live one's own life without threats, fear or some sort of retaliation.

And Justice -- the principle or quality of dealing fairly with others.

For all -- which means, boys and girls, it's as much your country as it is mine.

"Since I was a small boy, two states have been added to our country and two words have been added to the pledge of Allegiance...

UNDER GOD

Wouldn't it be a pity if someone said that is a prayer and that would be eliminated from schools too?"

NOW that the President has called us to prayer.....
NOW that Congress has called us to prayer.....
NOW that our Governor has called us to prayer....
NOW that the city Mayor has called us to prayer....
NOW that the "liberal" media and most other branches of our American society have called us to prayer.....
AND NOW that our churches are assembling in special prayer....

"Honorable" Justices of the Supreme Court, I have only one question..

Would it be O.K. to pray in our schools........??

An American Citizen & Christian

THIS SUMS UP MY PERSONAL FEELINGS

This is the speech the announcer read at the recent Moffett Air Expo (Sept., 2002). It sounded better when read over a loudspeaker to 50,000 people, and raised quite a cheer.

"These are not all my own words, but they are a collection of my musings, thoughts and ideas that reflect the values I believe are being overlooked in these 'politically correct' times. I feel strongly that these views are non-partisan and apolitical, although I am quite sure that not all will agree.

Recently, the state of Florida changed its opinion and allowed a Muslim woman have her driver's license picture taken with her face covered. The state of California and others have found our "Pledge of Allegiance" unconstitutional because it states, "one nation, under God." English is not even the official language of most U.S. states anymore. These are but a few examples of an undercurrent that I feel is attacking the very fiber of our nation.

I don't hold a grudge against anyone who is seeking a better life by coming to America. Our population is almost entirely composed of immigrants or their descendants, but there are a few things that some who have recently come to our country, and even many that were born here, need to understand. Since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, we have experienced a surge in patriotism by the majority of Americans. However, the dust from the attacks had barely settled when the "politically correct" crowd began complaining about the possibility that our patriotism was somehow offending others.

The idea of America being a multi-national community has served only to dilute our sovereignty our national identity and our national security. As Americans, we have our own culture and values, our own society, our own language and our own lifestyle. This culture has been developed over centuries of struggles, trials, and victories by millions of men and women who have strived to attain and maintain the absolute freedoms that we treasure and enjoy.

As Americans, our national language is ENGLISH, and not the languages of other nations. If you are a visiting tourist, we will welcome you and we will do our best to communicate with you - but if you wish to become a part of our society and our proud nation, please learn our language, don't expect us to learn yours. We would expect no less if we were to make a new home in your country.

We appreciate the best of our multi-cultural heritage - the cuisines, artistic impression and celebrations of our cultural roots, but we are fundamentally happy with our culture and have no desire to change our values or traditions, which are tried and true. We will do all that we can to help you to assimilate to our language and our lifestyle, but this is OUR country until you choose to live with us, by our system of values.

"In God We Trust" is our national motto. This is not some Christian right wing, political slogan. Our founding fathers adopted this motto, because it is clearly documented that this nation was established on non-sectarian religious principles. It is certainly appropriate to display it on the walls of our schools, on our coins and most of all in our "Pledge of Allegiance." We do not ask you to believe in God, but God is part of our culture. If these non-sectarian values are contradictory to yours, or untenable to your disposition, you may wish to consider another part of the world as your home.

Our First Amendment gives every citizen the right to express his or her opinion and we will allow you every opportunity to do so. But, once you are done complaining, whining, and griping about our flag, our pledge, our national motto, our God, or our way of life, I highly encourage you to take advantage of one other great American freedom, THE RIGHT TO LEAVE."

"We, the sensible people of the United States, in an attempt to help everyone get along restore some semblance of justice, avoid any more riots, keep our nation safe, promote positive behavior and secure the blessings of debt free liberty to ourselves and our great-great-great-grandchildren, hereby try one more time to ordain and establish some common sense guidelines for the terminally whiny guiltridden, delusional, and other liberal, bed wetters.

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that a whole lot of people are confused by the Bill of Rights and are so dim that they require a Bill of No Rights."

ARTICLE I: You do not have the right to a new car,big screen TV or any other form of wealth. More power to you if you can legally acquire them, but no one is guaranteeing anything.

ARTICLE II: You do not have the right to never be offended. This country is based on freedom, and that means freedom for everyone -- not just you! You may leave the room, turn the channel, express a different opinion, etc., but the world is full of idiots, and probably always will be.

ARTICLE III: You do not have the right to be free from harm. If you stick a screwdriver in your eye, learn to be more careful, do not expect the tool manufacturer to make you and all your relatives independently wealthy.

ARTICLE IV: You do not have the right to free food and housing. Americans are the most charitable people to be found, and will gladly help anyone in need, but we are quickly growing weary of subsidizing generation after generation of professional couch potatoes who achieve nothing more than the creation of another generation of professional couch potatoes.

ARTICLE V: You do not have the right to free health care. That would be nice, but from the looks of public housing, we're just not interested in public health care.

ARTICLE VI: You do not have the right to physically harm other people. If you kidnap, rape, intentionally maim, or kill someone, don't be surprised if the rest of us want to see you fry in the electric chair.

ARTICLE VII: You do not have the right to the possessions of others. If you rob, cheat or coerce away the goods or services of other citizens, don't be surprised if the rest of us get together and lock you away in a place where you still won't have the right to a big screen color TV or a life of leisure.

ARTICLE VIII: You don't have the right to demand that our children risk their lives in foreign wars to soothe your aching conscience. We hate oppressive governments and won't lift a finger to stop you from going to fight if you'd like. However, we do not enjoy parenting the entire world and do not want to spend so much of our time battling each and every little tyrant with a military uniform and a funny hat.

ARTICLE IX: You don't have the right to a job. All of us sure want you to have a job, and will gladly help you along in hard times, but we expect you to take advantage of the opportunities of education and vocational training laid before you to make yourself useful.

ARTICLE X: You do not have the right to happiness. Being an American means that you have the right to PURSUE happiness -- which by the way, is a lot easier if you are unencumbered by an overabundance of idiotic laws created by those of you who were confused by the Bill of Rights."


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