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March 4, 2004
Open letter to the Republican and Democratic Committees for the election of our next President.
Re: Symbols of September 11th
The Republican and Democratic parties and their candidates are now beginning what we hope will be an intense debate in the coming months. As they do, Families of September 11 asks they remember this. For the tens of thousands of us who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001 the wounds inflicted that day are still raw. For us the visual images of the planes, the smoke and wreckage at Shanksville and the Pentagon, the collapsing World Trade Center buildings, the rubble and, later, void at Ground Zero trigger painful mind-videos of what our loved ones suffered as they were symbols of our democracy.
They were (and we are) a microcosm of the diverse ingredients of the great melting pot that is America and stand, not for any one political persuasion or view – in favor of or against any one issue or candidate - but for the composite, the whole, that makes this country great. It is that symbol of unity in diversity that was attacked on September 11th.
The use by either party or any candidate of symbols associated with the mass murders of our loved ones, in an effort to influence the outcome of this year’s Presidential election, would inevitably misrepresent many of our loved ones and us. For every position advanced by one party or candidate to gain political advantage over another, our loved ones - were they alive - would likely agree and disagree in equal numbers. The same is likely true of us. Any claim to the contrary would be false arrogance.
The images of death on September 11th should not become the fabric of a rope, strained and torn in a tug of war for the presidency. Were this to occur, what message would be sent to us and the rest of the world - that our loved ones are pawns moved by powerful players in a game where their deaths can be manipulated in the hope of some strategic advantage? We believe they stood for much more than that on September 11th.
They died as means to the ends of terrorists, whose views are the very antithesis of what America stands for. We urge both political parties: Do not reuse the deaths of our loved ones as domestic political vassals. They (we) deserve more. To suggest that their deaths and our suffering better symbolize one party than another, one issue than another, one candidate than another is, not only false, it diminishes us, them and what they stood for on September 11th.
We ask both parties to use constraint. Debate the issues, including those related to the deaths of our loved ones. This we want. But do not punish us in the process nor lay false claim to our allegiance or that of our loved ones. What was attacked on September 11th is too large-scale, too precious to suffer at the hands of partisan political struggle in this country. After all, that is what happened on the world stage that awful day. Please, do not repeat it here in the coming months by gratuitous use of the images and symbols associated with the deaths of our loved ones.
Families of September 11