I agree that society needs to provide a clearer and more positive image of what being an American means, but Anne Michaud left out a very crucial component in her column "A failure to communicate our values" [Opinion, Sept. 11].
Many of our young people do not have a strong family unit, as most did in the past. Religious and family values have taken a backseat to the rise of technology, economic difficulties and a breakdown in communication and involvement between parent and child. Discipline has gone by the wayside.
Some parents expect the schools and government to take over that role. Many families have checked out emotionally or financially and don't instill a sense of "family" within their homes, let alone a sense of community. If we are to prevent young people from being lured to radical causes, we need to provide strong, positive and self-affirming homes.
We can put into place all of the best programs in our schools, churches and community centers, but in the end, it's what young people experience at home that really shapes their ideals, beliefs, hopes and actions.
John Hannon, East Patchogue
As a Long Island-born Muslim, it disturbed me greatly to read that a convert to the faith I love and practice joined Islam for the purpose of creating violence and chaos -- a philosophy so diametrically opposite to the religion.
I'm grateful to my greater Long Island community that it has made me feel as though I matter, such that these radical thoughts never entered my mind in my 40 years of life. Similar to Rob Goldman's "I Matter" project, my local Muslim community instills that same sense of purpose among Muslim youth by hosting "Muslims For Life" blood drives each year around Sept. 11.
In the end, as Anne Michaud so accurately pointed out, community leaders must work collectively to let all of our youth know that they do, indeed, matter. I can tell you that our mosque's doors are open to Long Island.
Rizwan Alladin, Amityville
Editor's note: The writer is the vice president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community of Long Island.
I was incredulous at implicating government in the horrific betrayal of 100 American citizens who've joined our greatest enemy. The writer is yet another person looking to our incompetent politicians for answers.
Young people do need meaning and purpose. This starts at home with a solid family structure, a strong work ethic and understanding that freedom is not for free.
We should remember President Ronald Reagan's first inaugural address, in which he insisted that government is the problem and not the solution.
Peter Flynn, Cold Spring Harbor