Dear Sirs:

A strength of our country is the ability of each citizen to offer their thoughts for the consideration of all. I will make mine brief, but I hope that somehow the idea gets through to one of you. Please, please, in your deliberations on how to respond to the despicable savagery of last Tuesday's attack, consider following the examples so magnificently and effectively set by the Union salute at Appomattox and by the Marshall Plan. When faced with a defenseless, destroyed opponent, offer help rather than hurt. Please, sirs, consider an airlift of relief supplies to the Afghan people, freely given as a memorial to those we lost to terrorism.

The world expects us to rain devastation on Afghanistan. No sane person doubts that we can do it. The terrorists hope for it, to buttress their argument that the United States is anti-Muslim and oppressive. How much more powerful a show of strength it would be to instead rain food, blankets and medicines to the desperate Afghans, to prove that a truly great nation does not destroy but can create and succor -- something neither the terrorists nor their own government can do. How compelling an argument that the United States does not hate Islam, but embraces all peaceful people. How impossible for any other country in the world, even including Afghanistan itself, to oppose our investigation, identification and punishment of the barbarians who committed the attacks. How much more difficult for terrorists to recruit future agents from among a populace that has experienced the munificence of America when they expected only munitions.

Every item could be stamped with an American flag, to insure that even the illiterate know where it came from. Even if the Taliban forbids the people to accept the gift, what parent under the blazing sun will look at their starving children and follow that edict? We can undercut the government's credibility and hold on loyalty in a way we can never achieve if we give them a common enemy. The drops could even carry a message, 'from the grieving people of the United States to the suffering people of Afghanistan' and include perhaps thumbnail sketches of the individuals lost to terrorism, to give humanity to the image of the 'faceless American'.

We have all been so proud of the way that Americans have responded to the needs of each other, from the emergency personnel of New York and Washington to the millions who have waited hours just to give blood. Giving and helping those in need is the very best of America, and where we have truly led the world in a new way. The cell phone calls of the doomed passengers and WTC workers, glancing over their shoulders at their loved ones one last time as they looked over the edge of life, all came down to the same essential message. "Take care of the children. Take care of yourselves." As a country, we have been doing that for each other. Please, gentlemen, consider extending their message, that peculiarly American greatness and compassion, when and where it is least expected. It can only solidify our position and undercut the evil we face.

I hope that somehow this thought makes it through the screening process. Thank you for your consideration, and may you be sustained by the hopes and trust of your countrymen and women at this most terrible time.


Sharon Ferguson