Wednesday, September 1, 2010

What about the families?

One of the articles I came across while reading about the Ground Zero Mosque was from Newsweek and it told the tale of two moms..who both lost their sons....both firefighters on 9-11. 

They have almost everything in common, including the tragedy that defines their lives. Both women were born in the Bronx and educated in Catholic schools. They married and raised kids of their own in the boroughs that circle Manhattan; as parents, they—like most of us—fought too much and counted blessings too little.

On September 11, 2001, Sally Regenhard and Adele Welty each lost one brave and handsome son—firefighters both—in the conflagration at the World Trade Center. Welty’s son Timmy, 34, was recovered only partially and in pieces—a fact that she, a 74-year-old grandmother, still cannot bring herself to recall without her chin trembling like a child’s. Christian Regenhard, 28, simply evaporated; not a cell of him was ever found. “ ‘He is unaccounted for,’?” Regenhard remembers a gruff old firefighter saying when she finally reached the firehouse by phone that Tuesday night. She mimics his tough Brooklyn accent—“fawr”—and as she does, her face crumples in grief. “Unaccounted for?” she remembers asking. “That’s something they say in war.”

I cannot imagine the pain these mothers feel.  My kids are young adults....20, 18 and 17. They are not little kids anymore.  They aren't the needy little people who used to hang on my legs and make endless demands for my time and attention. The apron strings loosen progressively as they grow and mature. BUT....they will always be my babies....even when they have babies of their own. Parents...especially moms...understand what I am talking about.  So I can empathize with these two moms, even though, without experiencing something as horrific as they have lived through, I can only imagine the sorrow, anger, heartache, rage these women must feel.  And they both have different views on the mosque/civic center near Ground Zero.

Welty supports it. She believes the mosque and community center will give a face and voice to moderate, peaceful, ordinary Muslims and so stand against the forces of terrorism and fundamentalism. “If we manage to get it built and can avoid violence in the process, the world can see that we are a towering nation, that we believe in and practice freedom of religion.”

Regenhard opposes it. It’s too soon, she says. It’s too close to Ground Zero, and it doesn’t take into account the sensitivities of people like her, whose loved ones, she believes, may still be scattered even beyond the 16-acre area where the towers once stood. If the people behind the mosque really desired peace, as they say they do, they would move it somewhere else out of respect for the sanctity of that place. “You never change hearts and minds by shoving your religion on someone else.”

This article probably impacted me more than any other article I've read about the mosque. It painted a real life face on the still grieving families of the victims of 9/11....and two mothers in particular...who lost their "babies" when the Towers fell.

Former Solicitor General under George W. Bush, Ted Olson lost his wife on 9-11. She was a passenger on the plane that crashed into the Pentagon. He is in favor of building the mosque.  Complete article is HERE.

Another Newsweek article I happened upon discusses how the opposition to the mosque is being used as a recruiting tool for the Taliban.  They use it as further proof that America is "anti-Islamic." 

“By preventing this mosque from being built, America is doing us a big favor,” Taliban operative Zabihullah tells NEWSWEEK. (Like many Afghans, he uses a single name.) “It’s providing us with more recruits, donations, and popular support.”

The backlash against the project has drawn the heaviest e-mail response ever on jihadi Web sites, Zabihullah claims—far bigger even than France’s ban on burqas earlier this year. (That was big, he recalls: “We received many e-mails asking for advice on how Muslims should react to the hijab ban, and how they can punish France.”) This time the target is America itself. “We are getting even more messages of support and solidarity on the mosque issue and questions about how to fight back against this outrage.”

Now that's a different spin on the commonly held belief by opponents that the building of the mosque will increase the acts of terrorism against the US.

And another article worth reading talks about a 2003 memorial service for Daniel Pearl, the journalist murdered by Islamic terrorists in Pakistan where Imam Rauf...the guy behind the mosque.... was invited to speak. He denounced the crime and the terrorists who committed it. The full text of the talk he gave is available on line. It is very inspiring...

More in my next post(s)...including the info I found on the number of Muslim casualties on 9-11 and a few other odds and ends thoughts about some of the articles I've been reading....  

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