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A special recognition of letter writers. (Sept11 How members responded).

One of the ways that many people -- at least those who are newspaper readers -- have dealt with the Sept. 11 tragedy has been by writing. That includes letters to the editor, op-ed pieces, even poetry

When I arrived at my office on Monday, Sept. 17, (after a return from the aborted NCEW meeting in Pittsburgh), I was greeted by a stack of letters the depth of a phone book -- only the letters that had arrived over the weekend.

How could we possibly respond to the ourpouring from our readers? This was obviously an attempt on their part to sort through all kinds of issues related to the terrorist bombings of the week before -- their anger, their inability to understand such cruelty; their faith, their doubt, their patriotism, their sadness. Clearly, this called for more than business-as-usual.

What we printed four days later was an eight-page special section that we called "A Thousand Voices: San Antonians Speak," a section devoted strictly to reader response.

We had never done this before, but then never had we faced such a emotional deluge.

The title was somewhat metaphorical, but we, in fact, estimated we received well over a thousand letters, with these pages offering a good representative sample of them.

We have a strict policy against using poetry (not wishing to place ourselves in the position of literary critics), but our book editor, bolder than we, took on the project of selecting two pages of poems.

A key was finding some semblance of order to the mass of letters. Our letters editor, Nancy Floeck Wilson, ably did so, creating sections on War & Peace, Love & Patriotism, God & Country, and Securing Our Homeland. Then, of course, there were the children, who both drew and wrote. I was enormously impressed by the quality and thoughtfulness of what we received from our readers.

The cooperation of our photography and art departments and design desk were key, bringing to life what could have been a well-written but terribly dull-looking section.

While this was a back-breaking project to complete in less than three days' time, it was terrific to work on and, as Nancy quipped, our contribution to the war effort. Given the need, we would do it again.

NCEW secretary Lynnell Burkett is editorial page editor of the San Antonio Express-News.

RELATED ARTICLE: FIRST-DAY EDITORIALS

A call for calm

Not since the Sunday morning of Dec. 7, 1941, has there been such a deliberate and deadly attack on United States soil as occurred this morning in an obviously coordinated wave of terrorism. First, let us urge calm. the chaos that follows such a tragedy as this is no time to make snap decisions. First we must deal with those who have survived and with those who did not.

Second, let us also realize that the concept of national security as we have known it throughout our history has changed forever.

Third, let us not blame people who live among us for the acts of their cousins who may have been responsible for this attack.

Let us guard our cities and their citizens; let us verify who is responsible for this horrible act of destruction; then let us deliver severe punishment to those responsible.

This is a time for national unity....

Those responsible for these attacks would do well to heed the words of Japanese Adm. lsoroku Yamamoto after the attack on Pearl Harbor:" fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve."

And so they have.

The Star-Telegram, Fort Worth, Texas, written by Paul Harral, editorial page editor

America's darkest day

Oh God.

The damage, the death toll. The sheer terror of the most audacious terrorist attack in history... .Today, a new generation knows how an earlier generation felt after Pearl Harbor. A new generation knows that history is never over. But this is a time for Americans to be cairn -- and to stand together. Our nation will survive this.

Decades ago, George Orwell wrote: "We sleep safely in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm."

Sleep safely? Not tonight. And perhaps never again. Nothing will be the same after today.

Orwell knew a nation would always need "rough men . ready in the night."

Some in this nation, blessedly insulated from so many of the world's horrors, may have forgotten that elemental fact of life. Few will forget it after Sept. 11, 2001.

And now?

Now it is time to visit violence on those who have done us harm. America is at war. Swift, ferocious retaliation is called for. But how? Against whom?

Oh God.

The Press of Atlantic City, by Jim Perskie, associate editorial page editor

COPING

Never have we wished so desperately that the images on the screens surrounding us might be just the usual terrorist fiction....

We will not collapse in fear and terror and give into the night We cannot. Must not. We will find solace and determination. We'll pray and rage. We'll stretch our sinews to grasp this awful madness and get on with life. We are expected by the evil genius to collapse into human rubble just as surely as those proud financial symbols in New York City collapsed hours ago. We are stronger than the evil genius thinks.

The Columbian, Vancouver, Wash., Sept. 12, D. Michael Heywood, editorial page editor
COPYRIGHT 2001 National Conference of Editorial Writers
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Copyright 2001, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Author:Burkett, Lynnell
Publication:The Masthead
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1U7TX
Date:Dec 22, 2001
Words:900
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