Letters to the Editor
Blood Bank staff gave of themselves
I have had the opportunity in assisting the collection staff of the Blood Bank of Hawai'i. Its people were tasked with serving the droves of Americans who came forth to give their best means of support for the horrific tragedies that have buffeted this country.
These nurses, collectors, medical technicians, support staff all never let up. They extended their hours, and the donors kept coming in. The days wore on, and they stayed on their feet. They endured the fatigue and accommodated donors who had waited for hours. They were so overwhelmed.
They continually balanced compliance with the national mandate for maintaining the safety and purity of our blood supply, while giving each and every donor personal attention. The staff listened to donors who were filled with emotion and some who have direct connections to the East Coast victims. I witnessed many of the staff confide to one of their peers an encounter with a donor, while seemingly releasing some of their own sadness. They then went back out, maintaining their professional attitude, and were as stoic as before. They gave the appearance of being carefree, but underneath they were capable, caring and resolute.
These people give of themselves for the community, and the community should realize how much it receives from them. I am proud that I had the chance to assist in their mission.
Lawrence E. Foster
We must re-establish our position in world
We sit in amazement and shock in front of the television watching buildings tumble and bodies pulled from the rubble. A tear of sadness falls.
We've been stopped dead in our tracks by four cowardly acts of violence, but must move on as a nation: a nation of strength, of power and of resolve. America was founded on the principle of freedom. America's foundation was questioned on Sept. 11. Freedom was questioned on that day.
The deaths will unite this country and we will be stronger. It's so sad that it takes such horrible acts of violence to make us realize not what we've lost, but what we have.
Firefighters, police officers and thousands of innocent brave Americans died for us, for our freedom, for our country. Those who lost their lives have earned the right to call themselves true American heroes.
We are the single most powerful entity on this planet, but that was put into question. Many say that retribution is cowardly, that we would be stooping to their level, but we must show our dominance or else this will keep on happening time and time again. We must strike fear into the hearts and minds of terrorists.
We don't need to start World War III, but we must re-establish our power as the greatest nation in this world. We must mourn the loses of the tragic events, but we have to get this nation back to what it was and find a sense of normalcy through all the tears.
'Aiea High School
A powerful alternative to fighting terrorism
I understand the calls for forceful retaliation against terrorists and those who harbor them. But I have a powerful alternative: an immediate humanitarian grant to Afghanistan of $5 billion pick your figure in the form of food, medical supplies, engineering expertise, whatever. (Not money. We don't want to support arms build-ups.)
Military strikes would play into the terrorists' hands providing "proof" of "evil American aggression." Sure, I want to get Osama bin Laden and other terrorists. But with U.S. missiles?
The Marshall Plan, in rebuilding Europe after World War II, illustrates the peace-building power of foreign aid. In fact, while we're aiding Afghanistan a nation devastated by a decade of Soviet incursion and continuing civil war why not also help other needy Mideast nations?
Humanitarian aid could be structured to go directly to the Afghan people rather than the oppressive Taliban regime. If the Taliban blocked the aid, it would be showing its true colors for the world to see.
The only risk in aiding Afghanistan is the financial cost. Meanwhile, as the world's nations consider the hawkish rhetoric from America, they might come to perceive us as a nation truly caring about human needs.
President Bush has declared himself a man of faith. I urge him to consider the words of St. Paul in the Book of Romans, Chapter 12: "Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: 'It is mine to avenge; I will repay,' says the Lord.
"On the contrary: 'If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.' "
Go after bin Laden, not the Afghan people
I hitchhiked across Afghanistan in 1965 after a year as an exchange student in Japan. During the 1970s, I again visited Afghanistan half a dozen times as an Oriental carpet exporter. I found the country fascinating and medieval.
The people are exceedingly poor, with laborers' wages being 3 cents an hour. I found the Afghan people to be polite, friendly and among the best horsemen in the world.
While I was there, the government was overthrown at least three times. When the Soviet tanks came in, I and other westerners were forced out.
There have been many who are calling for nuking Afghanistan or at least leveling Khandahar and Kabul to get back at the Saudi Osama bin Laden and the ruling Taliban. Since those folks are in hiding, the result of this policy would only be the killing of tens of thousands of innocent Afghans. When pictures of the dead babies and women are spread among the 1.3 billion Muslims on the planet, the result will be the same as our viewing the World Trade Center photos, and there would be no shortage of martyrs for "payback."
I hope our leaders can devise ways to either overthrow the Taliban or get bin Laden with a minimum of collateral damage to innocent Afghans. A great number of them do not support the Taliban (especially the women).
Here's proper etiquette for displaying the flag
The recent display of the American flag, here in Hawai'i and around the country, by citizens wishing to demonstrate unity and support, as well as grief, is an inspiring thing. However, in our zeal, many are not observing proper flag display etiquette.
While some may regard this as nitpicking, proper display and respect toward the flag are just as important as flying the flag. These are some of the most commonly forgotten points of proper and respectful flag display. If you are going to display the flag, please do so properly and respectfully.
According to the Patriotic Societies and Observances:
It is the universal custom to display the flag only from sunrise to sunset on buildings and on stationary flag staffs in the open. However, when a patriotic effect is desired, the flag may be displayed 24 hours a day if properly illuminated during the hours of darkness.
The flag should not be displayed on days when the weather is inclement, except when an all-weather flag is displayed.
The flag should not be draped over the hood, top, sides or back of a vehicle or of a railroad train or a boat. When the flag is displayed on a motorcar, the staff shall be fixed firmly to the chassis or clamped to the right fender.
The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water or merchandise.
The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.
A complete listing of rules can be found on the Internet at www.treefort.org/~rgrogan/web/flaglaw.htm#173
Terrorists may have used own sanctions
The United States of America usually instigates economic sanctions against hostile countries, especially in the Middle East.
There's a lump in my throat in realizing what the terrorist attack is doing to our economy. Our economy is being crippled from every angle as all businesses are affected and hurting.
What you see, what you hear and what people are saying, isn't that the result of an economic sanction itself? Could that have been a contingent strategy of the terrorist?
Efren Aquino Rivera
Put armed guards aboard our flights
The FAA is under a lot of pressure to respond to what happened Sept. 11 and appears to be taking steps to never let this sort of thing happen again. Well and good. But all the tightened checkpoint inspections in the world are not the answer.
Taking plastic steak knives out of paying passengers' hands? Really. Anyone who's truly determined and cunning enough can use anything as a weapon and no one will tip his hand before boarding and the flight is under way.
I am not a terrorist and I rightly resent being treated as if I were a potential one. No one should have to give up personal items and carry-on luggage, nor should loved ones be denied at the security checkpoint the parting pleasures of keeping company until the flight boards even if the occasional harmless stowaway succeeds.
The answer is for the government to for once spend our tax dollars correctly, in the pursuit of defending and protecting its citizens. The government should initiate an airlines (at least a domestic airlines) on-board, in-flight security service. Each passenger cabin should have armed undercover guards trained specifically to deal with in-flight threats and insurrections.
Catherine Ann Robinson
This silent patriot knows revenge coming
Sad news arrived from New York and Washington. This tragedy cannot be tolerated. This is the day of infamy.
Unidentified cowards attacked the United States, not only its buildings, properties, pride and citizens, but humanity itself. Those terrorists shall be brought to justice no matter how long it takes, how many difficulties it presents. All who are responsible for this cowardice shall feel our vengeance.
I firmly believe that our United States is ever more unified, that its citizens will be encouraged to defend and maintain liberty and, therefore, that the difficult time will be overcome toward better prosperity with peace.
I'm now traveling outside the United States, but I always stay as one silent patriot.
Jim K. Nakajima
Sagamihara, Kanagawa, Japan
Aboard plane ... with a new attitude
On United's Flight 564, the door had just been locked and the plane was about to pull out of the gate when the captain came on the public address system.
"I want to thank you brave folks for coming out today. We don't have any new instructions from the federal government, so from now on we're on our own."
The passengers listened in total silence.
He explained that airport security measures had pretty much solved the problem of firearms being carried aboard, but not weapons of the type the terrorists apparently used, plastic knives or those fashioned from wood or ceramics.
"Sometimes a potential hijacker will announce that he has a bomb. There are no bombs on this aircraft, and if someone were to get up and make that claim, don't believe him. If someone were to stand up, brandish something such as a plastic knife and say 'This is a hijacking' or words to that effect, here is what you should do:
"Every one of you should stand up and immediately throw things at that person: pillows, books, magazines, eyeglasses, shoes, anything that will throw him off balance and distract his attention. If he has a confederate or two, do the same with them. Most important: get a blanket over him, then wrestle him to floor and keep him there. We'll land the plane at the nearest airport and the authorities will take it from there.
"Remember, there will be one of him and maybe a few confederates, but there are 200 of you. You can overwhelm them. The Declaration of Independence says 'We, the people,' and that's just what it is when we're up in the air: we, the people vs. would-be terrorists.
"I don't think we are going to have any such problem today or tomorrow or for a while, but some time down the road, it is going to happen again and I want you to know what to do.
"Now, since we're a family for the next few hours, I'll ask you to turn to the person next to you, introduce yourself, tell them a little about yourself and ask them to do the same."
The end of this remarkable speech brought sustained clapping from the passengers. The pilot had put the matter in perspective.
One group on United Flight 93, which crashed in a Pennsylvania field, apparently rushed the hijackers in an attempt to wrest control from them. While they perished, they succeeded in preventing the terrorists from attacking their intended goal, possibly the White House or the Capitol.
That short talk by the pilot of Flight 564 should set a new standard of realism. Every passenger should learn the simple but potentially life-saving procedures he outlined. He showed his passengers that a hijacking does not have to result in hopelessness and terror, but victory over the perpetrators.
Previous efforts to reform security procedures and raise standards have been talked to death. This time, however, no lobbying efforts must be allowed to prevent airport security from getting needed reforms.