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Introduction to “Life’s Plan” as given on July 4th 2003 at the Sybil Center in Stanley.

As I prepared to come here today, I began to think of how what we believe determines what we do and the kind of world in which we live. As I look around the room, I see those who have come here, in some cases from great distances, because they believe it is important that they save this beautiful old build9ing in honor of a life beautifully lived by Sibyl McDonald.

Last week I saw many of those same people in their work clothes as they prepared to clean, paint or hammer as they donated their talents and time to reach that goal.

I cannot help but contrast their creative and loving belief system with the destructive and hateful one that caused young men to fly planes into two of America’s most impressive buildings causing them to crumble to the ground before our very eyes. Nearly three thousand of our most talented and highly trained citizens died that day, among them my only daughter, Ann Nicole Nelson. To the men who flew those planes that day, Annie was an infidel. I’m told that they believed that she had no soul and that they would be rewarded for killing her. To them she was a passage to paradise—a means of achieving honor and glory. Yet they had never met her, --never heard her laugh or looked into her sparkly green eyes. For if they had, they would have known that not only did she have a soul, but she had a spirit so strong that it would reach back across the great divide to guide us in our search for peace and meaning to our lives.

It certainly has taught me that we must never teach the children of this world to hate. We must do everything in our power to steer young people from the paths of destruction and violence and onto the path of love and creativeness.

The hardest thing that my family and I have ever done was to stand in the Stanley Cemetery and watch as Steve Springan knelt to lower that small white casket into the ground. In my struggle to understand that terrible event, I wrote the following poem called “Life’s Plan”.

I hope it will inspire us to continue to create beauty and love in this world and to avoid the path of destructiveness.