October 30th, 2010
09:28 AM ET

Letters to the President: #649 'Scary days'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: Reports of an attempted terror attack have Washington buzzing; that’s the subject of today’s letter to the White House.

Dear Mr. President,

One day, we’re not going to catch them. I don’t think that’s a likelihood. I think it is a mathematical fact. Despite all we’ve done to carry out the so-called “war on terror” and despite all our successes (and there have been many), there are still an awful lot of people on the planet who would love to attack us if they could. And they’ll keep trying. And one day they will succeed.

While I appreciate that, at times like this, any president must reassure the public and calm our fears, that is the message I hope to hear more when the immediate threat has passed –from you and many other political leaders.

I think we, the people of America, need to be reminded that our country is vast, filled with more than 300 million people who, while united, also all have their own views. Our country is open; we benefit from a great and extraordinary 24-7 flow of ideas, goods, services, and people from all over the globe. Without that openness and freedom, we would not be the success story that we are - economically, politically, or culturally.

And some day, someone is going to be able to circumvent all of our safeguards and hurt us. Maybe a little. Maybe a lot. It will be a terrible day. But what happens immediately afterward will determine just how terrible.

Our ability to react rationally, as calmly and firmly as possible, with the greatest focus on recovering from the strike, pursuing our enemies, and maintaining the overall sense of who we are in that process is what genuinely matters.

Terrorists may be able to change the landscape of a block, a city, a port, an air field or train station. But what we most have to guard against is letting them change us - our nature as Americans; our vision of what it means to have a free, caring, prosperous country that stands for common principles and yet allows for contrary individual beliefs.

You and our other leaders must work diligently to protect us, but you must also prepare us, so that when that terrible day comes, we will not declare that it is the final day, but merely a day from which we will recover as we have in the past.

Best of luck with the latest worries.


Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. B. Leon

    Tolerance, acceptance and freedom are necessary. Ensuring the continued safety & respect for all citizens & visitors is essential, but so is a little fear with some common sense. I'm of the belief that we do have to help ourselves also and to be politically correct at the expense of our safety in the U.S. is irresponsible. I think this (safety first) should top our list.

    October 31, 2010 at 4:47 pm |
  2. C

    Mr. Foreman,
    I only hope that when disaster comes, we join together and forget the many different viewpoints and be reminded we are united as a nation that supports freedom and something better.

    Thanks for the encouragement...it's necessary in the news world.


    October 31, 2010 at 1:29 am |
  3. Angela Engardio

    This is a terrifying, yet all too real, concern. The last two paragraphs were extraordinarily important topics. I am a high school teacher and I try to continually speak and teach my students about tolerance, acceptance, and freedom. These are important principles for our youth to learn and while some people in the world may dislike us and want to cause us pain and terror we must remember these principles. We cannot let fear become a dictator of our behaviors and practices. All too often stereotypes are used to discriminate against people we view as “different.” While the government needs to reassure the public for their physical well-being, we as a nation cannot stop there. Ensuring the continued safety and respect for all citizens and visitors within the US needs to top our list as well.

    October 30, 2010 at 7:53 pm |