by Derrill Bodley
Last September 11th, I stood in the field outside of Shanksville, Pennsylvania where Flight 93, my daughter Deora’s flight, went down one year earlier. I greeted President Bush and the First Lady as they walked among the families. As I shook his hand, I said “Mr. President, I urge you to listen to the world leaders who are strongly advising against going down the path of war.” Those leaders are still saying the same thing, but today they are joined by millions of people around the world, saying “no” to violence.
We need to turn America’s great ship of state around, to a course in which our nation’s energies, skills, and resources are overwhelmingly devoted to making peace, not war. As Dr. King said in 1967: “Wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows.” We need to develop and to demonstrate to the world the tools of understanding, respect and love for all people, peacefulness within our own hearts, and, above all the equitable sharing of the world’s resources among all people, all life, and the world itself. These are the basic tools for building and making peace. If our toolbox is filled with these, instead of hate, greed, arrogance, and violence, then we can build the whole world up, instead of tearing it down.
We, the “September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows” know this well. Travelling to Iraq in January and to Afghanistan twice last year, we saw the graves of the victims of violence there, victims of interminable wars, bombing, and brutality. We, who on September 11th lost a brother, a daughter, a sister, a father, — our own kin — met our twins in Iraq and Afghanistan, persons there who lost a loved one just like ours, just as much loved as ours, just as human as we are. Their grief is our grief. Their hopes are our hopes. Their fears are our fears. The pain is the same.
We have the capacity, as Americans and human beings, to produce the materiels of peace instead of war. We have the knowledge and resources, the tools of understanding, respect, and love to build — in our own minds, in our own nation, and in the world — a culture of peace achieved through peaceful means.
Shall we instead rain down bombs upon the people of Iraq? Shall we continue the death, destruction and disease that has already been heaped upon Iraq? Shall we start yet another firestorm of terrorism, this one never to be extinguished?
We say “No!” Not in our names, not in our loved ones’ names, not for Deora (my daughter), [not for Sean Rooney (Beverly Eckert’s husband), not for Craig Amundson (Ryan and Barry Amundson’s brother), not for David Rice (Andrew Rice’s brother), not for Craig Montano (Catherine Montano’s son),> not in vengeance, not in retaliation, not for me, not for us.
[names in brackets are Peaceful Tomorrows families and loved ones>
Make no mistake. We are the rising tide of the voices that will not be silenced. All of us here today are on the leading edge, the crest of the wave toward peace. We are doing our patriotic duty AND fulfilling our human obligation, to stop the cycles of violence before they start, to stop the headlong rush to war, hatred, and destruction.
On the morning of January 29th, Columbia astronauts Willie McCool and Ilan Ramon sent out a wakeup call to their fellow astronauts and to the world. After playing John Lennon’s “Imagine,” McCool added these comments (translated into Hebrew by Ramon): “From our vantage point, we observe an earth without borders, full of peace, beauty and magnificence. And we pray that humanity as a whole can imagine a borderless world, as we see it, and strive to live as one in peace.”
Our message is clear, our message is here. Our message is loud, and we are proud of it. THEY MAY SAY WE ARE DREAMERS, BUT WE’RE NOT THE ONLY ONES. Today, around the world, down on the corner, out in the streets, in capitals, in towns, everywhere, everyplace — even from space — there is a great and loud prayer going out: “Stop this madness! Stop this bullying! Stop this arrogance! No war in Iraq! No war in Iraq, please!”
[719 words> Derrill Bodley, September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows