I saw you, Michael, on the front page of my Chicago Tribune this morning. How grateful I am that you have a second son to hold you through the tears. I wish you had two sons with you. And I wish especially that you didn't have to bear the spotlight of knowing that the video of Nick's killing was being broadcast round the world.
I don't know why some people go through grief in privacy and others, like your family, are thrust into the public eye. It's enough of a cruelty to deal with your own pain, but I can only imagine what it's like to have to deal with everybody else's.
I found myself making a prayerful promise to your family today: that I will not think of Nick in terms of the brutality of his death. I will remember him as your son, as the boy of promise, as the man of talent who had a vision of having something to give. He is more than a victim of the hand of hate. He is valued as someone who knew how to offer services needed for the rebuilding of Iraq.
Defending the life of your child is the first plank of the platform of parenthood. And even though you couldn't be there physically to fight for him, your comfort will be found in what you did give him, not what you didn't.
There is perhaps no greater unselfishness on earth than the yearning of a parent for a child's progress and happiness. The value of the aspirations you had for Nick still stands, and in fact is all the more important in light of the grossness of what has come to the surface in the Iraqi war. The solution to barbarism lies in the purity of your love for your son. It's no one else's business to know the things you hoped for Nick, but the substance of those aspirations is the heartbeat of civilization.
At times of great anguish, the writings of great leaders help us out of darkness to see where we are going. Mary Baker Eddy, who founded Christian Science and this newspaper, wrote these words during some of her darkest hours:
May the great Shepherd that 'tempers the wind to the shorn lamb,' and binds up the wounds of bleeding hearts, just comfort, encourage, and bless all who mourn."
Father, we thank Thee that Thy light and Thy love reach earth, open the prison to them that are bound, console the innocent, and throw wide the gates of heaven. ("Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896," page 275).
Our prayers are with you and your family.
He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye. As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings:
So the Lord alone did lead him, and there was no strange god with him.