In Memoriam – Remembering Peaceful Tomorrows Co-Founder Rita Lasar (1931-2017)

We mourn the recent passing January 8th, 2017 of Rita Lasar, instrumental Co-Founder of September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows. Rita’s son Matthew writes: On September 11, 2001 terrorists attacked the nearby World Trade Center. Rita’s younger brother Abraham (Abe) worked in the North Tower of the complex, and perished while waiting for firefighters to help a wheelchair bound co-worker escape the building.Three days later President George W. Bush cited Abe’s courage in a speech before the National Cathedral, but Rita began to fear that her brother’s sacrifice would be used as justification for recklessness abroad. On September 17, she sent a letter to The New York Times that expressed this concern. “It is in my brother’s name and mine that I pray that we, this country that has been so deeply hurt, not do something that will unleash forces we will not have the power to call back,” she wrote. The letter attracted widespread attention. Dozens of spouses, children, and siblings of victims of the attack called or wrote to her to share their concerns.

Not long after this statement, Rita traveled to Afghanistan with three other victim family members to protest the US/NATO bombing of civilians. As the US deployed forces across the Middle East in the name of a “war on terror,” Rita chose another mission and path. “I will stay behind just as my dear brother did” she promised audiences. “I will stay behind and ask America not to do something we can’t take back.” In February of 2002 she became a co-founder of September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows. The group’s initiators, in the organization’s own words, shared “a belief that the violence that took their loved ones’ lives could spin out of control, and fear could be manipulated by politicians and the media to justify foreign and domestic policies that would increase violence while decreasing U.S. citizens’ rights and liberties over the years to come.” Rita spoke across the United States and around the world to protest the United States invasion of Iraq and to demand the closing of Guantanamo Prison. (

Her fellow members of September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows are forever indebted to Rita’s leadership, her foresight, and unflagging courage and commitment to peace and justice as the underpinnings of a truly strong America. We commit to following the path she illuminated.

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