y business card has the word "editor" on it, which means I do things with words, including writing them. But today I am as much at a loss as is the next person when it comes to finding ways to express my sorrow and shock over the dreadful Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on this country.

Those attacks struck out at our transportation system and hence the business that we are in. Their victims include airline employees with the passengers (mostly agency clients) whom they served, travel agencies in the World Trade Center and other travel businesses near the scenes of destruction in New York and Washington.

The travel experience itself is forever changed.

But the day's events weren't about any particular industry. The list of victims will be much longer, probably longer than we can imagine.

I am touched by how many people I have heard from asking if I am OK. I imagine many of you heard from friends and colleagues around the globe, too.

Coincidentally, early Sept. 11, I arrived at New York's Kennedy on an El Al flight from Tel Aviv. I had spent a week in the place that many Americans are afraid to visit these days.

I came home just in time to witness (via TV) a terrorism disaster much worse than any to occur in the Holy Land.

I had met people in Israel, including Palestinians, who talked about how discouraging the conflict of the last year has been. The ongoing violence does not target overseas visitors, but it gnaws away at the citizenry -- and scares foreigners away.

A Jerusalem guide said, "When I think twice about letting my children go downtown, I can't blame people who don't come here" as visitors.

So, does she let the kids go downtown? Yes, because "they can't live here and be cowards," she said.

A ministry of tourism hostess shared her frustrations but also said she is happy to hear when tourists go to Bethlehem and other points where Israeli guides cannot go. That, she said, gives business to the Palestinians and makes life seem more normal.

My host on a kibbutz at the Dead Sea fretted over the loss of what, he said, was to be the "best-ever" tourism year. But, on an everyday basis, he runs his errands in Jerusalem or wherever he must go because, he said, "life goes on."

There are connections between events in Israel and here, and one of those is grief. We have a monstrous crime to come to grips with here.

Little did I know when I boarded my flight Sept. 10 how soon I would have a new sympathy for those who had shared their distress with me, and a new appreciation of the value of "normal" -- even forgettable -- days.

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