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Published: Monday, 9/17/2001 - Updated: 1 year ago

Reader response as extraordinary as week's events

I've written a lot about the terrorist attacks that shook America. Starting with Wednesday's column, I'm going to return to writing about what I know best - sports. But I would be remiss if I didn't share some of the e-mails responding to my past three columns regarding the tragic events from Tuesday.

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You mentioned how we Americans are blessed, spoiled, fortunate, and how we sometimes take things for granted. How right you are. I think we all need to slow down a bit, and get out of that fast lane and take time to smell the coffee! The world won't pass you by!

Wayne L. “Bud” Miller

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First of all, let me say I am NOT an avid, dyed-in-the-wool sports fan. However, I can't even begin to imagine what you can POSSIBLY be thinking, if indeed you ARE even thinking, in your continued support of the non-resumption of sports. ... Yes, I feel for the dead and wounded and for their friends and family as well. I also can't imagine how bad I would feel if someone near me were in those circumstances. But to let these (terrorists) disrupt our lives and, what's worse, show them that they have been allowed to, tears at me badly. Perhaps I'm in the minority, but I just needed to tell you how I feel and how much I disagree with you. I guess that's what makes this country great.

Gene Curtis

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You're absolutely right about Americans being spoiled, and really having lost sight of how fortunate we are as a nation. It was well into (Saturday night) while watching the sunset with my son that I realized I hadn't had my weekly dose of college football, and I was pleased to find that I had made the absolute most of my day to spend it with my family and not in front of the tube. I want to thank you for helping us to see that sport is just the little bit of extra gravy that makes life more enjoyable.

Matt Koepplinger

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I agree with the games being canceled for a day or two. But canceling the games for the weekend is like showing fear and letting the terrorists know they put the fear in us. How long do you cancel the games? The President said he's not going to let the terrorists shut down our country out of fear. I think canceling all games everywhere in a way is showing that we are scared they will attack again, that they will be able to attack anytime they want - next week, next month, whatever. We should not show fear as a nation.

Brad Strub

HARRIS' RESPONSE: By postponing games, America has surrendered nothing to terrorists who killed citizens and attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. We have not given in by sacrificing a weekend of entertainment. Rather, this country has focused on what's truly important and pulled closer together while preparing for war.

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As a parent, I really appreciated your column about talking to your kids about the terrorist attacks on our country. My neighbor and I are both mothers with children under 12 and we both agreed we are at a loss for words on the subject. What do we say? I have suggested (1) that we pray for the families of the victims, (2) that the people involved are brought to justice, (3) that our President does not act in haste out of revenge, (4) that people of Muslim faith and/or Middle East origin are not persecuted wrongly for something they had no part in. This sounds good, but most of it goes over our children's heads. They clearly have no idea why anyone would commit such an act of evil and are plainly stunned. It seems as if their view of how the world works has been shattered. They simply want, as we all do, to feel safe.

Angela Riddel

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I understand when you ask how will you remove the fear from your son's eyes. I am a soon-to-be stepmother. I received a call at work from my 12-year-old stepdaughter. She said she was scared, she wasn't ready to die. I tried to reassure her that everything was going to be OK, but she didn't buy it. Although our lives will carry on, I don't think anything will ever be the way it used to be.

Worried

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When my boys came in from school they each had very different reactions. My 16-year-old was incensed and outraged about the whole thing. “How could they do this? Do you realize the planning that went into this, Mom?” My 14-year-old would join the Army and say, “Teach me how to use this gun! Let's show ‘em what Americans are made of.” Both admirable in their own way.

Alison VanRynen

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After I picked up my 9-year-old from football practice, we drove to the grocery store. He pleaded with me to let him and his 5-year-old brother sit in the car while I ran into the store. He didn't want anyone to see him in his mudcovered uniform. While understanding his reason, I wanted to come up with the right explanation why I will not leave my children in the car without scaring both of them. My first reaction after the tragedy unfolded was to drive to the school, bring them home, and never let them out of my sight! We, as Toledoans, are blessed because we are alive. Our job as Americans is to embrace those whom we love and do what we can to help the victims and their families. I don't know if my son truly understood what I said to him, but all three of us went into the store together and my boys know that their mother is serious about protecting them.

Not A Worrying Mother

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My daughter will be 8 next week and my son will be 14 in January. I told my daughter the truth. I made sure to let her know this is not a common thing to happen, and that it had never happened before in my 40 years of life. She seemed to comprehend, but I will continue to reassure her daily that she is safe. My son told me he wasn't scared but that his whole school was. I told him to be extra careful at the bus stop in the morning and after school. I told him if he sees anything suspicious in school to let a teacher know. All of this was stated in my normal tone of voice, as not to alarm him. It's hard enough for us parents NOT to panic, but we must remember that children are curious and it's best to tell them the truth.

Lissy Dunning

HARRIS' RESPONSE: While it's true that parents must be honest with their children, it's also important that parents know enough about what they're talking about to speak the truth. Parents must be careful not to speak emotionally about last week's terrorist attacks and make certain their words are grounded in facts. Kids have a sixth sense about honesty, especially when it concerns their parents. Above all else, we owe our kids the truth.

John Harris is a Blade sports columnist. E-mail him at jharris@theblade.com.



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