Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The following letter is addressed to President Obama:

The other day, watching some replays of the march on Washington in 1963, I was telling my eldest daughter about how, when the bus I was on left Boston, I waved to my husband and my three little children then three, four and six, and I was not necessarily sure that I would ever see them again. After the fact we know the march was peaceful; before the fact we did not know what might happen. My daughter asked me point blank: “Mom, why did you go?” I answered spontaneously: “Moral indignation.”

Moral indignation about the way people were being treated. Those circumstances required a response from me, one person among what turned out to be hundreds of others.

Listening to John Kerry last week, I heard the same moral indignation. I also heard it when you spoke the next day. I want to thank both of you for understanding and expressing the strong sense of moral indignation that the use of any chemical weapons should provoke in all of us.

Growing up in Holland I heard horrible stories from my parents about the gas being used in the First World War. I experienced the German occupation in Holland during the Second World War and learned about the terrible atrocities perpetuated in the concentration camps. War is the most inhumane action used by human beings against each other. By now, 2013, there should be war no more — we know enough, we should have learned enough to settle all our differences by other means.

But that is not the case. I fully support you in your need and wish, in humanity’s need, to not let this use of chemical weapons go unchallenged and unpunished. I trust your judgment, savvy and smarts to know what specific action to take. Just like in the march on Washington, we do not necessarily know what the consequences of such action may be but our moral indignation has to be stronger than our fear of possible consequences.

You are carrying a heavy burden. I hope and trust that the country in the final analysis will be with you and that we have not yet been so degraded by violence that there no longer are any limits left. Thank you for setting a strong moral compass.


Alida J. O’Loughlin, Vineyard Haven