Not in Our Son’s Name

Letters by Phyllis and Orlando Rodriguez

The following letters were sent to the New York Times and to the White House by the parents of Greg Rodriguez. Greg worked at the World Trade Center and is listed as “missing.” Greg’s parents have asked that the letters be shared as widely as possible. The letters are also being circulated by the Southern California Fair Trade Network (8124 W. 3rd St., Suite 104, Los Angeles, CA, 90048). They were forwarded to us by Kathleen O’Nan of the Los Angeles Metro Chapter of the Labor Party, to whom we send our thanks.

The posting from the Southern California Fair Trade Network included the following: “Greg Rodriguez died in the World Trade Center bombing.  He worked for Cantor Fitzgerald.  Greg was an activist in New York CISPES [Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador] in 1989 and 1990. Many of us remember him as the first to volunteer for civil disobedience for the cause of ending the war in El Salvador.”

Saturday, September 15, 2001, 8:35 pm

Our son Greg is among the many missing from the World Trade Center attack. Since we first heard the news, we have shared moments of grief, comfort, hope, despair, fond memories with his wife, the two families, our  friends and neighbors, his loving colleagues at Cantor Fitzgerald /ESpeed, and all the grieving families that  daily meet at the Pierre Hotel.

We see our hurt and anger reflected among everybody we meet. We cannot pay attention to the daily flow of news about this disaster. But we read enough of the news to sense that our government is heading in the direction of violent revenge, with the prospect of sons, daughters, parents, friends in distant lands dying, suffering, and nursing further grievances against us.

It is not the way to go. It will not avenge our son’s death. Not in our son’s name.

Our son died a victim of an inhuman ideology. Our actions should not serve the same purpose. Let us grieve. Let us reflect and pray. Let us think about a rational response that brings real peace and justice to our world. But let us not as a nation add to the inhumanity of our times.

Copy of letter to White House:

Dear President Bush:

Our son is one of the victims of Tuesday’s attack on the World Trade Center. We read about your response in  the last few days and about the resolutions from both Houses, giving you undefined power to respond to the terror attacks.

Your response to this attack does not make us feel better about our son’s death. It makes us feel worse. It makes us feel that our government is using our son’s  memory as a justification to cause suffering for other sons and parents in other lands.

It is not the first time that a person in your position has been given unlimited power and came to regret it. This is not the time for empty gestures to make us feel better. It is not the time to act like bullies. We urge you to think about how our government can develop peaceful, rational solutions to terrorism, solutions that do not sink us to the inhuman level of terrorists.


 Phyllis and Orlando Rodriguez