Following the terrorist attacks on America September 11, 2001, Sid sent this letter of sympathy and comfort to his friends and fans. Following it is a letter from George Takai with his response.
If Christmas is a time when we get together to celebrate the family, and Thanksgiving marks a day of gratitude for the community – New Year’s a time of national cohesion … then I hope history will remember Tuesday the eleventh of September 2001 as the day when humanity as a race came together to fight our common enemy within – our own messed up brothers and sisters who share this world with us.
I have been glued to the television these past two days, punching redial on my telephone every ten minutes or so for six hours yesterday until the international phone lines cleared up, just waiting to hear news of my little boy and his mother and his brother, all of whom I was worried about. During these past two days I have heard and seen gestures and moments of such courage and selflessness that I simply had to write to you, the only group of Americans I know (personally in many cases) if for no other reason than to remind you all that you are in sympathetic company all over the world. Your nation is not alone. The British Prime Minister has said today that this was not just an attack on the American people but on the free world. Leaders from nearly every country have unanimously stepped up to the plate to try and share your grief, offer their support and burden the responsibility of exacting some kind of revenge on the sad and lost people who did this.
I like to think that the very few people who were in the vicinity and have so far survived these attacks have set an example for all of us. Their calmness, their understanding of what needed to be done, their ability to stop running and turn to help someone less fortunate than themselves are examples of what every one of us on this planet is capable of. If America is the leader of the free world (and I believe it is) then these Americans have lead by example.
It isn’t my place to tell any of you how to react – your own personal consciences will, no doubt, be your guides – but I would like to add ‘my two cents’ to your discussions on this topic and beg you to remember that many of the people who are saddened and shocked by all this are people who will, in the days to come, seem like your enemies – people who had no part in this, who also have children and lovers and family. Many Islamic countries have condemned this action including aggressive states like Syria and Iran -even Palestine. I am not a Muslim nor indeed am I a Christian, I am just another person bumbling through life, trying to stay on my own two feet. And I am not an American, but I can hear what the rest of the world has to say about this tragedy and from what I can tell, the rest of the world is holding out a friendly, helping hand. It’s possible that you may not need any other country’s help – but the hand is still there.
I hope that when I see you again soon we can all say that our reactions to these atrocities have begun the process of putting an end to world-wide terrorism – not perpetuating it. I sincerely hope that none of your families have been personally marked by all this.
LETTER FROM GEORGE TAKEI
September 11, 2001
By George Takei
The magnitude of the atrocities that we watched in sheer horror on our television sets on the morning of September 11, 2001, is still growing in the grotesque count of casualties. The human tragedies are unimaginable. The pain in our hearts is unbearable.
Out of the wreckage, though, emerged uncommon courage and humanity. Firefighters, police officers, and volunteers worked under harrowing conditions to try to save the victims of the devastation. Their valor, their extraordinary sacrifices stirred our spirits. The casualties among these brave heroes compound the horror and grief.
Our revulsion, heartache, and sheer shock at the enormity of the tragedy must now turn to resolve. Those cowardly fanatics who planned, aided, and executed these acts of terror must be brought to justice. Theirs was an assault, not only on the United States and all that we stand for, but against the very values of civilized society throughout this world.
The focus of the terrorists was on the fundamental ideals of the United States. The free enterprise that was symbolized by the World Trade Center, the might of the U.S. that was symbolized by the Pentagon and the freedom and democracy that was symbolized by the Statue of Liberty clearly visible in New York harbor, were threats to those deranged but cunning fanatics. They do not know how potent a force a roused and united America can be. In a crisis, we will act — and act with commanding vigor.
That power will be exercised with our American values intact. Attorney General John Ashcroft forcefully stated that the target is the terrorist criminals and their associates — not Muslims, not Arabs, not Middle Easterners. Congress passed a resolution on Friday night to protect the rights of Muslims, Arab Americans and South Asian Americans. Unlike the racial hysteria that followed the Pearl Harbor bombing by Japan, when Americans of Japanese ancestry were incarcerated in American concentration camps solely because of their ethnicity, the Attorney General was very clear that race, religion and background will not be the focus of this campaign. It will be the evidence of criminality. The lesson of history has been instructive this time around.
Deplorably, we still have dangerously ignorant hysterics among us in America. There have been shots fired into mosques, Arab American businesses painted with the word “Die!” and reports of a Sikh person shot and killed in Arizona. These rednecks are no better than the terrorists. Their acts shame America and besmirch the glory of our Stars and Stripes. They, too, must be tried and punished — unlike the victims of their ignorant racism.
Last night, I went to a concert at the Hollywood Bowl as I had planned some time ago. I refuse to let terrorism affect me. I will not let them win by forcing me to change my plans. The concert was glorious. At the end of the evening, the soloists, Marni Nixon, Nell Carter and Lauren Frost took their bows, then led us in singing “America the Beautiful.” Fifteen thousand rose up in full voice. The hills of Hollywood resounded strong, united, and magnificent. Neither terrorism nor ignorance will stand in this America today.