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It's difficult to write about anything else.

Last night, I walked past a firehouse, a few blocks from the office, that I've been walking past for years. They lost 15 men working in the bottom floors of the World Trade Center when the building came down on them.

The firehouse has a huge, friendly dog named Bear. He wasn't a Dalmatian firehouse dog. He looked more like his name, Bear. The guys loved him. I didn't see Bear the other night, but there were 150 New Yorkers standing around outside the open firehouse doors. They didn't want anything. They just wanted the firemen to know they were with them.

There was a skeleton crew inside and one truck. New York still has fires and someone has to put them out. Everyone else left alive at the firehouse was down at the scene -- risking his life.

Bear must have had some good friends who are missing. "Missing" is a euphemism.

They aren't finding bodies. People who have been there say the whole area is covered with three or four inches of dust. Some of it is the ash remains of almost 5,000 people who died in seconds Tuesday. A passenger plane can hold 50,000 gallons of fuel that can burn at a temperature around 2,000 degrees.

People who lived near the Trade Center and had gone out couldn't get back to their apartments. Thursday, a woman pleaded with a fireman to let her pass so she could go to her apartment, because her dog hadn't had anything to eat or drink for three days.

The fireman told her he couldn't let her pass, but he took the keys to her apartment, and when he got off, he went there and fed her dog. We're desperate for stories that nice.

I was embarrassed to find myself thinking of the restaurant called "Windows on the World" on the top floor of 1 World Trade Center. They had just hired a new steward to take care of one of the greatest wine cellars in the world. It was the only "cellar" I know on the 107th floor. The wine steward went to work on his first day on the job and is dead. The wine is gone. One is a tragedy and the other is of absolutely no importance at all.

This is a holy war. I am not a religious person, but I don't think the 19 Muslim fanatics who rode the four airplanes to their deaths thought they were doing anything evil. In their minds, they were pleasing their god, Allah. They believe Allah is all powerful and the only god. It is not clear to me, as an outsider, whether Muslims and Christians pray to the same God or not. If Christians do not recognize Allah, who do they think he is? If Muslims don't recognize the Christian God as the real thing, what do they think of him?

How are you going to punish someone who believes he is doing the will of God when he commits a crime against humanity? With what are you going to threaten people who believe they will go to a wonderful, forever heaven if you kill them while they're fighting for Allah? The world has a problem with religious beliefs that are not based on reason or common sense.

More Christians should read the Koran to understand the minds of the Muslim people. It is, in many ways, like the Bible but much tougher and less forgiving. President Bush should be aware of what awaits him if he carries out his threat to attack any Muslim group.

Here is a passage I came across in the Koran:

"The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and his apostles and strive to make mischief in the land is only this, that they should be murdered or crucified or their hands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides or they should be imprisoned."

We are so hated by so many people in the world that there must be a case against us, but we don't know what it is. We can't understand why we are disliked. We seem so nice to ourselves.

Tribune Media Services

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