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Letters from alumni about peace protest at P.U.

November 26, 2001

I'd like to echo my classmate (and fellow Coach Panfile alum) Mike D'Emilio's thoughtful letter about the protesters (November 21). Like Mike and countless others in an out of uniform or in the practice of law, I support their right to voice their opinion, whether or not it is popular. What I and many others object to, however, is the ignorance that is the basis for it.

I serve as an appointee in the Pentagon. My offices were on the "E" ring next to the helicopter pad. They were destroyed in the attack, although, thank God, none of my immediate staff were killed. The General whose office shared a wall with me, hoowever, lost his life as did over 20 men and women – civilian and military – who worked indirectly for me in the Navy's Counterdrug Office. The office that tries to protect Americans from the evils of drug trafficking.

In any case, my objection, like Mike's lies in the ignorance of evil and malice that, in my opinion, the protesters possess. Protesting war and violence is nice, but personally, I'd like to minimize the chance that some evil-doer will get me, the people around me, or, yes, even the protesters, in the future. While our armed forces are capable of violence (as they should be), I defy anyone to show me one individual in the American military who WANTS to kill or destroy. They do so because we have decided that THEIR lives are to be at risk so that we can sleep at night.

Protest violence all you want but start with the source — those who commit acts of evil in the first place.

P.S. After they visit the WTC at Mike's invitation, I would be honored to give them a tour of the Pentagon and show them where some of my colleagues' lives were destroyed. submit: Send

Andre D. Hollis ’88
Alexandria, Va.

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October 9, 2001

Standing in the center of the twisted rubble that once was the World Trade Center, there was not time to formulate anything more than a visceral response to the horror that surrounded me. Most of the other volunteers next to me on the bucket lines had the same silent reaction to the incomprehensible scene around us. Grim faces said it all. Everyone was too busy trying to get through to survivors to stop and comment for more than a second.

But in the days since then, as some have called for blood, and others for moderation, I have felt a deepening sense of anger, outrage, and helplessness. Some of the most peaceful moments I have known since the attack were in the shock of the aftermath, in lending a hand, in the exhaustion of the relief effort. As strange as it sounds, it is harder to sort through the arguments of peace protesters, war hawks, and insane Muslim extremists than to pick through the ruins of the actual destruction. Evil is clear at ground zero.

I wanted to voice dissent with the Princeton Peace Movement, to ask that they not distort the focus of this conflict, to remind them of the absolute righteousness of the mission at hand. But I find myself thinking back to the innocent dead in New York, and ahead to the innocent lives that have yet to be lost. I understand the protesters' position, and the good intentions behind it. So I will instead ask them to take a trip to New York, and to breathe deeply of the stench of what remains of our innocence. Better that they say what they will through the hot choke of rage, and not the cool remove of intellectual relativism.

Mike D'Emilio ’88
Chatham, N.J.

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