People-to-People Delegation Will Highlight the Human Face of War
Bolstered by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assertion that “wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows,” family members of September 11 victims will travel to Iraq from January 5-14, 2003, to make public their conviction that war will not bring peaceful tomorrows to that nation, to the Middle East region, or to the United States. The four-member delegation represents September 11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, an advocacy group seeking effective, non-violent alternatives to war and terrorism.
Recognizing that innocent civilians are often the ones most deeply affected by military action, the family members will bear witness to the conditions of Iraqi civilians while also acknowledging the price American civilians will pay. Increasing anti-U.S. sentiment, the possibility of future terrorist attacks, injury and death to U.S. military personnel and the harsh economic consequences of spending billions on military intervention are all deemed likely consequences of this war.
“It has struck me how many people in this country were so very moved by the New York Times ·Portraits of Grief,ê” said Peaceful Tomorrowsê Colleen Kelly, who lost her brother, Bill Kelly, Jr., at the World Trade Center on September 11. -We all got to see the faces and learn about the lives of those lost on September 11th. I’m going to Iraq for this very same reason. I want to see the faces of the Iraqi people. I want to learn about their lives. I want to understand that Iraq is not just one man, Saddam Hussein, but many, many people, with hopes and dreams and families, just like my brother.”
While in Iraq, the delegation plans to visit service and humanitarian aid projects, including hospitals and clinics, schools and orphanages, and water treatment facilities. They will also talk to civilians, share their stories of losing loved ones on September 11, 2001, and explain why they united to turn their grief into action for peace.
Upon returning to the United States on January 14, the group will commemorate Rev. King’s birthday by speaking out as widely as possible about the need to avoid war in order to spare additional innocent families, be they Iraqi civilians or the families of U.S. military personnel, the suffering experienced by September 11 families.
“Rev. King recognized the connections between war and poverty, between war and the diminishing of human rights,” said Terry Kay Rockefeller, who lost her sister, Laura Rockefeller, at the World Trade Center. “We hope our search for non-violent alternatives to war in Iraq will help to build trust within the global community so that it becomes possible to truly end terrorism and war, in all of their manifestations.”
Kristina Olsen, who lost her sister, Laurie Neira, on Flight 11, said, “I am traveling to Iraq as a witness for peace. I feel a deep sense of moral responsibility, both as a citizen of the global community, and as a person who lost a loved one on September 11, to promote the message of peace–by bearing witness to the suffering of innocent people, as well as by working toward creating an opening for constructive, non-violent approaches to dealing with conflict in our world. This I feel is the most meaningful way I can honor the memory of my sister.”
-My hope is that all people will come to realize that loss of more human life will not solve the problems of the world,” added Kathleen Tinley, who lost her uncle, Michael Tinley, at the World Trade Center.
September 11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows was launched on February 14, 2002, and today includes 50 family members directly affected by September 11, as well as 2,000 supporters. Its mission is to seek effective nonviolent solutions to terrorism, and to acknowledge the shared experience of September 11 families with all people similarly affected by violence throughout the world. By conscientiously exploring peaceful options in their search for justice, the groupês members choose to spare additional innocent families the suffering that they have already experienced, as well as to break the endless cycle of violence and retaliation engendered by war. In doing so, they hope to create a safer world for themselves and for their children.
For more information: www.peacefultomorrows.org.