“Dear Terrorists”: An Open Letter To My Enemy In Honor Of 9/11

(This is something I wrote a year ago that I wanted to share again on this national day of remembering.)

Dear terrorists,

This September 11th is one of looking back, grieving our losses, celebrating our heroes, and looking forward to what is, hopefully, a better future.  It’s been ten years since that awful day.  Ten years.  In many ways it still feels like it all happened just this morning.

I’d prefer September 11th wasn’t a national holiday, a big arrow on the calendar that reminds me and reminds me and reminds me.  I’d prefer there was nothing to debate about what a proper memorial of the Twin Towers should look like, no reason for awkward body scans at the airport, no reason to suspect people who look a certain way or wear a certain article of clothing or practice a certain lifestyle.  It’s a terrible thing to walk through life being suspicious, squinty-eyed, afraid.  But I guess that’s what you wanted.

Out of my fear and hurt I’ve wanted you to be afraid and to hurt, too.  I’ve wanted to smash you, terrify you, eliminate you, no matter what the cost to life and soul.

But ten years later, I don’t want that anymore.

I’m tired of hating.  I’m tired of being suspicious.  I’m tired of living in fear.  It hasn’t brought me any satisfaction, meaning, or peace.  It hasn’t done anything to make me feel better or to bring comfort to families who lost loved ones that day.  In fact, nurturing my fear and hurt seems to have only added to the problem.   It’s multiplied it.  Exponentially.  And now we’ve lost so many more.

It’s only made the world – my world, your world, the one we share – a darker, uglier place.

And here’s the thing.  My son, my very first child, has September 11th, 2011 – the ten-year anniversary of 9/11 – as his due date.  And I don’t want him showing up in a world where everyone’s so afraid of each other, where people spend their entire lives working to destroy each other.  I don’t want him looking up at me and asking me why I pulled him a little closer when someone who looks different from me (someone who looks more like “them”) walks by.  Yes, it’s just that ugly.  And I’m sick of it.  And I want out.  So here’s my out:

I forgive you.

I don’t excuse you.  I don’t justify what you’ve done.  I don’t forget what’s happened.  But I forgive you.

Because you, like me, learned what matters most from those who came before you.   And you, like me, were raised to believe certain things about how the world works.  And you, like me, are trying your hardest to live as faithfully as you can to what you believe.  But especially because you, like me, keep getting it wrong, keep missing the point, keep needing rescue from all this hurt we’ve caused each other.

So this September 11th, my son’s due date, the ten-year anniversary of a terrible, unforgivable tragedy, I choose to forgive you.

And not reluctantly, but wholeheartedly.  Not “you stay over there and I’ll stay over here”, but I’ll run to you and embrace you and welcome you into my house and give you something really tasty to eat, and we can talk to each other and listen to each other and maybe, hopefully, our unprecedented, unimagined, but entirely possible friendship can write an entirely new future for our children.

I hope you’ll forgive me, too.

Believing it’s possible,


(photo credit: Denise Gould)


About jesserice

Speaker | Author | Digital Culture Expert | Sit-Down Comedian

Posted on September 11, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. Thanks for writing this. I think you will be (you are) a fabulous dad. 🙂

  2. When I first looked at your signature I thought it said Jesus. He would have approved.

  3. “Because you, like me, learned what matters most from those who came before you. And you, like me, were raised to believe certain things about how the world works. And you, like me, are trying your hardest to live as faithfully as you can to what you believe.” Thank you for speaking grace into this day.

    i have been praying for you and katie, knowing septmeber was when your baby was due.
    a son. wow! a boy. WOW! it just causes me to tear up, knowing how your heart and everything in you is going to EXPAND when you hold your boy… when you hold that bit of you and bit of katie knitted together by Him.

    may God’s Spirit lead you and katie to train and love this child according to His will.
    i know God will continue to shape and mold your family, and especially your little boy (a boy!) for His glory!

    with great expectation for you all,

    • thanks so much, Denise. I was looking at your blog yesterday (which is AWESOME, btw) and saw you were having to move again. NOOOOOOOO! Praying for you guys as the journey continues – for great neighbors, a great place, safety, great friends for both you guys and the kids. Hang in there, lady – your voice and your life are a massive blessing to many.

  4. Great letter and ‘third way’, Jesse. The feeling this gives me is freedom. Here’s to a revolution of forgiveness and freedom – and a healthy, safe baby boy.

  5. Just the word I need to hear on a day like this Jesse. Like Linda, I know you will be a great Dad and I pray that God will continue to bless you with wisdom and discernment as your family grows just little bit larger!

  1. Pingback: On The Anniversary Of 9/11. « Becoming Chris Kamalski

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