Dear Audubon Member,

On September 11 our staff at Audubon House, in lower Manhattan, watched in horror as terrorists destroyed the nearby World Trade Center. We were fortunate. Everyone here and in our Washington, D.C., office was safe. Our sympathies continue to be with those less fortunate.

As we mourn this tragedy, we also begin thinking about how to adjust to new realities. Our nation is reordering its priorities, and we at Audubon will refocus our resources to address any new challenges that emerge.

The attacks of September 11 were an attack on our American way of life, and they brought into focus what is most important to us: our families and loved ones, our communities, our freedoms, and the other core values that make our society strong. These are the things we must now defend. In the campaign against terrorism that lies ahead, we anticipate difficult choices. What values will we protect for the future, and what must we sacrifice?

During previous times of crisis, our society faced similar choices. We are proud of some choices; others, we profoundly regret. For example, following the attack on Pearl Harbor, when we interned Japanese-Americans in the name of security, we sacrificed individual liberties. We were wrong, and we came to regret it. During the 1950s, when we abetted Joseph McCarthy’s crusade against communism, we sacrificed freedom of speech. We were wrong, and we came to regret it. If now, in an effort to protect ourselves from terrorism and assure a steady energy supply, we sacrifice the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge or other protected places, we will be wrong again. And we will come to regret it.

For more than 100 years Audubon has been promoting values important to American society. One of those values is a healthy environment, which is essential for healthy individuals, families, and communities. We believe that the world we leave our children must include sound ecosystems with a diversity of wildlife, and protected places such as parks, refuges, and wilderness areas.

The terrorists who invaded our country may destroy our buildings, but they are not likely to destroy our wildlife and natural places. Only we can do that. Someday our children will look back and judge how we defended our society during this time of crisis. We hope they will not conclude that we sacrificed the very environmental values we should have defended for them.

After the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Americans felt a vast hunger to help. Most of us cannot clean up the wreckage or minister to the fallen, but there is work we can do. We can defend our nation’s natural heritage. We can strengthen our communities, through local Audubon chapters and Audubon centers. Please speak out with us, and please volunteer. To learn how, visit www.audubon.org.


John Flicker
National Audubon Society


© 2001  NASI

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