September 14, 2001

Community Speaks Out On Tragedy

The horrific events that occurred in Manhattan, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania this week touched many more lives than the thousands that were lost. In an expression of support, people within our immediate community and the much larger community to which we all belong, share their sorrow, thoughts and prayers.


This is written by the orange, flickering light of my wife's velas, the murmur of her rosario in my ear. Comforting, familiar, human, a good antidote to the cold, blue images of Armageddon on the television. My cousins, parents and friends call from Spain, where Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA) conducts a smoldering war of car bombs and kidnappings, pervasive enough that I know people who have been killed and kidnapped. My father's rich friends have armored Mercedes' and drivers with heat, like the nervous maquiladora executives here from Japan and Korea, fearing secuestros from the narcotraficantes.

Dr. James Grisolia

For years, America succeeded in burying its diversity and its many pasts under a soothing myth of meltingpot sameness. Now, just as terrorists have planted a tragic lance in the military-industrial Trinity (1 Pentagon and 2 World Trade towers), the Latin and Asian diasporas have carried a world of differences to the American heartland. Our national challenge is to grow and to learn, to put aside simple fantasies of vengeance making us whole and pure again, to use our strength wisely and gently in the complex, crowded Petri dish that has become our planet.

America still does not understand why the Serbs, for example, still relive lost medieval battles. We forget that our own Dixie flag still brings old wounds to a boil for rednecks and former slaves, alike. Denying our American past, we cannot grasp the ancient grudges of Israeli and Arab, of Irish-Protestant and Catholic, of Hutu and Tutsi. Latinos remember Guadalupe Hidalgo. They remember the missionaries burning Aztec codexes. They remember, in dreamtime, a return to Aztlan. With luck, the Latin contribution to America will bring a sense of humility and a genuine warmth to replace the grip-and-grin of the gringo dealmaker, a historical memory that the world is complex, layered, and that the past still runs through all our veins.

Dr. James Grisolia, San Diego


Like everybody, I was horrified. I was so upset that I was weeping at a volunteer meeting that I went to Tuesday night. We shared thoughts and prayers which really affected me. I am trying not to be simply angry. It is important to be rational and calm, and to keep sight of our core values. The horrible thing is that this happened to so many innocent people.

Al Manzano

At the Tuesday meeting, my wife and I suggested that we all go for a walk on the beach to be someplace pleasant and look at the sun. One of the men with us excused himself to walk to the restroom. While he was on his way, three older teenagers came up to him and antagonistically asked him where he was from. "I am an American citizen," my friend replied. "Well, where are you from?" asked the boys. "I am from India," said the man. "Are you sure you are not Pakastani?" asked the boys. I do not think those boys realized what they had just done. Their attitudes and distorted sense of values reminded me of those of the boys who beat up the migrant workers in North County. This worries me.

The irony of this situation is that this man's daughter is married to a New York policeman who had been sent on a rescue mission to the World Trade Center. The whole family was really suffering. They were having to face the possibility that their son-in-law was dead. Finally, the daughter heard from her husband. When he called he asked her to please "tell your parents and the rest of the group to wear western clothing." My reaction is that this is giving in to what people already want to do, which is to find innocent people and hate them. If that is not terrorism, I do not know what is.

Al Manzano, Carlsbad


We are worried about how the world leaders will react in consequence to the terrorist acts in New York, Washington D.C., Pennsylvania and other places. We, the youth, do not believe that using force will solve this problem. If force is used, the situation in which we are living will only worsen. We are not in favor of a war.

Enrique Davis, Mexico


I consider myself a peaceful person, but it is not enough to sign a Manifesto of the kind we received: "Don't use force, make love, peace and love." First, you have to propose something concrete to avoid violence, and to avoid terrorist acts and cowardly behavior like the ones we saw Tuesday.

Tuesday, we saw an un-signed, unforgivable act. Even in war there is some loyalty or honor, but this was not even comparable to Pearl Harbor. In that case, it was at least clear who was attacking.

Tuesday's acts have to be punished with all the power of the law regardless of the nationality of the leaders who planned the apocalyptic acts we saw. Acts like these deserve a quick, prompt and strong reaction from the leaders of the world (capitalist, communists, socialists... you name it.) It does not necessarily mean war.

Before signing any manifestos, which are usually written more as a reaction to a gut feeling, think a little bit. Justice is not an enemy of peace. Punishment is not an enemy of peace. Manifestos like these sent over the internet are usually full of good will, but they never are written with deep commitment.
Marcelo Salgado, Mexico


Today, as Americans from all ethnic, social and economic backgrounds, we must unite as a nation and remember something that we tend to forget: we are one race, "the human race." We must set aside our hatred, our bias and our differences and look for the good in all people. While I believe that justice must be served, we must remember that violence breeds violence. I believe that we must unite behind our president, our government and each other to do whatever we can to help in our own way. There is a tremendous need for blood and additional resources for the thousands of victims in New York and Washington D.C. I would urge you to give blood or to give of your financial resources today!

Manny Aguilar, President of Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

For people who want to donate blood: Call 1-800-GIVELIFE

For those who want to contribute money: Call 1-800 HELPNOW.

Finally, I would ask you to reflect on your life and on how you contribute to your society. What can we do everyday, in even small ways, to make our world a better place?

Manny Aguilar
President, San Diego County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce


It is difficult to say or do anything tonight. Today, my wife's airline lost two crews, two groups of flying colleagues, four pilots and 14 flight attendants, some from LA and some from other American Airlines bases. The animals who perpetrated the horror which cost thousands of lives and billions of dollars in damage... were suicide terrorists expecting to go to heaven. I hope they were wrong and that my God sends them to agonize and rot in hell forever.

Anger, frustration and ensuing depression is what they brought to hundreds of millions of Americans... but we must try to let it be short-lived. We need to back our President and apply the totality of our national resources to seek them out, to punish them and to take all measures necessary to keep this from happening again... this is a time to gather strength and motivation from any source. God Bless America...

Fernando Oaxaca, Los Angeles


I know it is too early to tell what will happen in the next few days in light of this terrible tragedy that has struck us. There is absolutely no question in my mind that all known terrorists and the countries who harbor them should be held responsible for this event. Give them an option, help us capture and punish those responsible for this, or they will suffer just as if they were the ones who conducted the act themselves.

Deanna DiAmbrosio, California

I spent eight years in the far east, and I have always noticed that the people of these countries tend to focus on getting revenge. I have always thought they would do something like this to the United States. In the navy, I spent several years in Iran and Saudi Arabia. The people there are different. They are very vengeful, and they have a deep hatred for us. They do not understand our ways and we do not understand theirs. They have been brought up differently and they have been fighting there like this since the days of Jesus.

Richard Valdez

I know what the United States' response is going to be. There will be a maximum military effort. These people are hard to pin down because they are on the move so much. The United States. will gather intelligence. They do not want to be embarrassed and bomb some empty, old tents out there like they have done before. They want to make sure that they hit somebody. They need to gather information and find the main people involved, no matter who or what government gets in the way. We will go over and really do it this time. President Bush is building up to it. He's going to go full force. He is just warning us, letting us know that we are not going to hold back this time. We are going to go out and try to annihilate them.

I believe that if they did it to us, we should do it back. An eye for an eye. If we do not put a halt to it, they are going to continue. It has to come to an end sometime.

Richard Valdez, Carlsbad


My first reaction was disbelief, then shock. I pretty much spent the whole day in a daze, and I got this feeling from the people around me. Although it was business as usual, there was an undertone of dismay. I did not really start thinking about how it was going to affect me until I realized how many people I knew in New York and how many people were traveling to San Diego from New York. There is a good chance that we knew a lot of San Diegans who would be making their way back.

As for President Bush's response to this, I think that it is what our country was built on. We have the luxury and freedom that we have because of war. We cannot afford to show any weakness right now. I know there are a lot of pacifists who believe we should be a little more empathetic, but that is not the way the United States is. Although I do not like war, I understand that it is the way we live. I appreciate the way that I live.

Jeana Jones, San Diego


Obviously I was horrified watching television on Tuesday. I always thought that perhaps something like this could happen. Now it has, and I am not too sure what can be done about it. It is a fact of life in these times. I would hope that the Bush Administration would try and solve this problem instead of installing a missile defense system which I do not think is a good idea. I hope peace will come to the middle east, and I sympathize with both sides. It is a really tough situation. If someone is determined to give their life for their cause it is almost impossible to stop them.

Ron McCulloch, San Diego


It was awful; it was terrible; it was shocking. I feared for my grandson and what he must have been thinking. I went to his school and picked him up early. It was just a terrible, terrible thing. The fear of this bringing us to a war overwhelmed me. All I could think of was my husband who was killed in Vietnam, It was terrible.

Helen Chavez, San Diego


I feel sorrow; I feel violated. I was there at the World Trade Center on September 6, 2001 enjoying the beauty of the city. To see it now ... Yet, it made me proud to see the people of our country unite! To set the example for the rest of the world and show them why we are LEADERS. God bless America!

America Castro Donatto, National City


I offer a poem for our children:

Thoughts Rising from the Ashes

Oh, my children,
we have been victimized by evil at play
with captured planes crashing into skyscrapers
in the USA.
And who knows
what to do
or what to say?
And forgotten is yesterday
as we gather ourselves
in states of disbelief on this sad September day.


Oh, we have to somehow,
in someway,
begin to love and understand each other
in more significant ways
if we're to ever realize better days.

How many ways can you love?

How many ways can you care?

How many lives can you touch?

How towards others can you be more fair?

Maybe we can find the answers to some
of life's major challenges
in the last months of 2001
if we ponder such questions before this infamous day is done.

...Ernie McCray

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