Out of the Humidor
From the Print Edition:
Dennis Haysbert, Nov/Dec 2006
On September 11, I was watching the coverage of the many memorial services honoring those who were victims of the attacks five years ago. During the coverage, my mail arrived and in it was my copy of Cigar Aficionado. I had already spent most of the day watching the coverage and reflecting on the terrible events of that day. Having spent over 20 years in the securities industry, I lost a number of friends as well as some casual acquaintances on that horrific day. I had spent a good part of my life in and around the World Trade Center and was supposed to be there later that week. I know my life will never be the same, and I can't imagine anyone who wasn't in some way affected. I started thumbing through the magazine as the television was showing the services from Ground Zero and the Pentagon. I decided it would be the right time to pull out a special cigar from my humidor and reflect upon how fortunate I was to be alive and to remember those who weren't. It was an emotional time and it really hit me how lucky we are to live in a country where personal freedom and liberty are the cornerstones of what we stand for.
As I looked at the pictures people sent in of their families and friends celebrating and bonding (with each other and cigars), I was listening to the speeches and interviews of those who were directly involved in the attacks. I found the juxtaposition of all of these events incredibly overwhelming enough to sit down and write this letter. Everything started to seem a little more special today. The freedoms that we have and the lives that we lead can't be taken for granted, and I never will again. I thought of how much we owe to the soldiers that fight for our freedom at home and abroad as well as the men and women of law enforcement that serve us at home. I also salute the everyday people that took control of Flight 93 to prevent the further destruction of this country. The articles in that issue also reminded me of the lifestyle choices that we have.
Many times we don't realize what it means to be free and have the ability to make choices. I know after reflecting on the events of the past five years that I will never again take for granted what it means to be an American. We may not all get along or agree on issues, but that is OK. We are blessed to live in a society where we are free to disagree. We elect our leaders and we throw them out if we don't like the job they are doing. We live in a country where we are free to speak our minds and not be afraid of being jailed or executed for having a view contrary to those in charge.
I am extremely proud to be an American as I know that so many people are. I just wanted to take the time to reflect on this special day what makes this country so great. So many of the articles and pictures in that issue hit close to home and I guess it just made me even more sentimental and patriotic than usual. The one thing that I propose is that in the coming years we use September 11 as a day to come together as a country, and not only to remember those who died but to celebrate all of those things that make this country great. It would be a great tribute to those who fell on 9/11 and in the years of conflict that followed. I think the United States is the best place in the world to live and we should never forget it.
San Francisco, California
Editor's note: Amen. Check our editors' letter this issue on page 27.
As a firm believer in smokers' rights, I think there should be a full week that smokers of all tobacco products abstain from all bars and restaurants that do not allow smoking. Business owners should have the right to establish a smoking environment or not. The Boston Tea Party worked, so let's have a tobacco party. We all know tobacco is money, so let's hit the bureaucrats and liberals in their pocketbooks. I know you get letters all the time about how our rights are being stripped. Let's take action, starting with you, and establish a date—maybe even a whole month—and hit the media with ad campaigns. It may hurt a little, but we have to fight.
Clementon, New Jersey
I discovered your magazine last December when I had my first cigar. It was a cold night and I sat on my porch with an Arturo Fuente Hemingway Signature and your magazine, and I could feel that it was a match made in heaven (despite the fact that I couldn't feel my nose).
I started smoking cigars not because of their supposed buddy-buddy image of wealth, but because they are a celebration of life and of art. Up until this point, at the age of 18, I had been cursed with more afflictions than you could shake a stick at. I had finished my 22nd surgery (an aggressive, highly invasive spinal surgery) less than two years prior, and had grown accustomed to weekly medical procedures and daily medicines. I was constantly stressed as I tried to keep both my education and health as top priorities. Then I found cigars—not the most healthful way to relax, but the taste, the smell, the camaraderie and the beautiful art won me over before my better, rational and thrifty side could speak. And at the same time I discovered your magazine. So I'd just like to say thank you for continuing to support my peace of mind (and spending habit).