PEACE in Action

Dialogue: Peace and Security

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SPOTLIGHT on Peacemakers
September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows
September 11, 2001 was a great shock to all Americans and to many of the people of the world. However, the greatest shock was to those who had relatives and close friends who perished in the ruins of the Twin Towers in lower Manhattan in New York City, the damaged part of the Pentagon in Washington, DC and in the crashed plane near Shanksville, PA.

As they dealt with the shock and the loss, a number of the relatives of those lost on 9/11 decided that they objected to their fallen loved ones being used as an excuse for killing more innocent people in a so-called war on terrorism.

One family wrote to the President in part as follows: "This is not the time to make us feel better with empty gestures. This is not the time to act like bullies. We urge you to think about how our government can develop peaceful, rational solutions to terrorism, solutions that do not sink us to the inhuman level of terrorists."

They objected to the bombing in Afghanistan which they knew was causing death and suffering to even though no information on civilian casualties was being supplied by the US Government and nothing was being reported by the American media.

The latter changed only after a delegation of the relatives of 9/11 victims traveled to Afghanistan in January 2002 and visited the members of families who had lost loved ones in, or had been maimed by, the US bombing or by other misplaced firing. The 9/11 families created an Afghan Victims Fund and lobbied for the US Government to do the same.

Creating "Peaceful Tomorrows"

On February 14, 2002, a number of the relatives of 9/11 victims established 9/11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows and began working for peace with other peace-oriented groups in the US and abroad.

Peaceful Tomorrows now has 122 family members in 23 states and 3 foreign countries and more than 3,000 supporters. Their group was nominated for the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize. Members went in a person-to-person delegation to Iraq, drawing attention to the plight of ordinary civilians there. They have spoken at more than 127 events in 26 states and in Turkey, Iraq, Japan, Italy, Canada and Korea. The group coordinated the linking of more than 100 commemorations of the 9/11 anniversary around the world creating "Circles of Hope." Members also taught on the Peace Boat, a globe-circling classroom educating young people about alternatives to war.

A report of their trips and actions, as well as some of their personal situations, is recorded in the recently published book September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows civilians Turning Our Grief into Action for Peace. This touching and inspiring book, by David Potorti and other members, can be ordered at the Peaceful Tomorrows Website.

"Wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows."
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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