I began writing this column three days after the attacks on New York and Washington. Like everyone, except for the maniacs who planned, executed, and supported this terror against the people of America, I am numb, angry, and trying to comprehend the evil that was thrust upon us.
We are all joined in a battle now. We are together today more so perhaps than at any time since Pearl Harbor. The memorial service at the National Cathedral in Washington has just concluded. The images of our country’s leaders joined together in a day of prayer are mixed with the flashbacks of death and destruction, the likes of which we have not seen since the death camps of World War II.
Certain phrases come to mind: “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.” “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” “A day that will live in infamy.” “Ich bin ein Berliner.” “This will not stand.” “They will hand over the terrorists or they will share in their fate.”
Anger rises when smug national news readers and radio talk show hosts criticize the President for not returning to Washington directly, implying that he is incapable of the job ahead. But there is also the good sense of Rep. Bob Borski of Pennsylvania: “There are no Democrats and no Republicans, only Americans.”
Life for most of us has begun to return to normal, yet we know that life has changed. Our sense of insulation is gone, and many worry about the future.
We’ve been warned about terrorist attacks for years but have allowed Congress to apply ridiculous standards to the collection of intelligence data. We have always thought we were insulated. Now we know we are not.
Many of the “Greatest Generation” got their start in the jewelry business when they returned home from World War II to pursue training under the G.I. Bill. They held their war stories back for years because they didn’t want to recall the horrors they’d witnessed. We might have been better off hearing those stories. Perhaps it might have made us more attuned to the warnings of terrorism. Certainly, the emotions of those directly affected by the Sept. 11 horror are more real to us than what we read in history books about World War II, Vietnam, or the Gulf War.
Some worry that we’re not up to dealing with terrorism, that young people are not up to the task. They worry that we might have to sacrifice some creature comforts to win this war.
We now know what the Israelis have known for a long time. We must make the terrorists pay a fearsome price.
America’s jewelry industry is a microcosm of the world. Virtually every race, creed, and nationality is represented. Many have escaped from places where terrorism is harbored. All know the freedom they have here is worth defending.
With over 6,000 dead—including one of our own, Bob Speisman of Lazare Kaplan, and two senior executives of JCK‘s parent company, Jeff Mladenik and Andrew Curry Green—nearly everyone has been touched. We join in extending condolences and prayers to all the families affected. Never have the words “deliver us from evil” had more significance.