Time to bury dead, take care of living

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Attack on New York

A firefighter breaks down after the World Trade Center buildings collapsed after two hijacked airplanes slammed into the twin towers in a terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001.

(Mario Tama / Getty Images / September 11, 2001)

As this horrible morning breaks, as the first light falls on New York and Washington, falling on the rubble covering thousands of Americans murdered by terrorists, we are confronted by our obligations.

Tuesday was a day of numbness and horror as we watched those images on television, of the collapse of the World Trade Center towers in New York, of the Pentagon burning, of people leaping from the burning skyscrapers.

But today, Wednesday, that numbness must begin wearing off. It is getting old; it offers an escape, an excuse, a hiding place. And now there is work to do.

The first piece of work is the consideration of the dead.

The dead are Americans--perhaps tens of thousands--who were murdered simply because they were Americans. As such, they are our brothers, our sisters, ourselves.

We have an obligation to them, an obligation of blood between us now, especially now that we're wounded and angry and afraid.

Not since Pearl Harbor has there been an attack like this against us.

With anger and fear raging, it's natural for us to want to be rid of it. The way to that is to direct the military power of this country against those who attacked us.

The anger is easy, and fear will be there too. They will be available for a long time, waiting eagerly, as always, for us to run with them.

So we can always draw upon it, and we will, inevitably, when other mothers and fathers begin screaming, crying for their children in some lonely, dusty place across the world.

You surely know that will happen. It is inevitable that other mothers and fathers will mourn their dead. It hasn't happened yet. But it will. It is coming. They know it.

Now, though, is not the time for that. We can wait, and consider and pause and reflect and take our time.

Because there is a job to do first, a task to accomplish before we give in to our passions.

Now is the time to take care of the living, to nurse them, to hold their families.

Now is the time to bury the dead, to mourn them, to pray for their souls and for this country.

These are the first priorities. This is what is important.

As this work is done, as the country passes beyond Tuesday's numbness into Wednesday's sorrow, we can begin to better understand what we must do and what we must not do.

What we must not do is blame. Blaming the government is easy. Wondering why the government couldn't prevent this evil launched against us is too easy.

Blaming is that special wind that fills politicians and TV types, who want to point fingers and fill dead airtime and push agendas.

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