Peaceful Tomorrows member Beverly Eckert delivered this speech to Japanese Delegates of the ‘Peace Boat’, which included Nagasaki atomic bomb survivors, in Manhattan’s Battery Park on Friday, August 8 before walking to the World Trade Center site.
On September 11th, 2001, my husband Sean called me from the 105th floor of the World Trade Center. The fates, in their mercy, granted us enough time to say what we needed to say to each other before the building collapsed and he was carried to his death.
On September 11th, 2001, my husband Sean became something very alien to the America experience. He became a ‘civilian casualty’. And because of that, I found that I had become something different, too – a member of a world-wide community numbering in the millions, whose lives have been torn apart by the effects of man’s inhumanity to man.
The pain I felt that day transcended anger. It transcended the boundaries of my safe and orderly world and propelled me into the maelstrom of what I now know is a far truer reality-one shared by countless others who have suffered when political, religious or cultural entities find ways to justify annihilation as a tactic to achieve their goals.
On September 11th, 2001, America was thrust into sisterhood with countries and peoples she had once helped, as well as countries and peoples she had once hurt. And so September 11th is a beginning. My husband died because he was an American and I’m here today so I can help ensure that when history looks back in judgment on this new century, the word American will have stood for something righteous and good.
Being here today brings me hope. September 11th has mobilized so many to further the cause of peace. Someday there will be a Memorial at the place nearby we call ‘Ground Zero’- an unholy name which resurrects the horrors of another act of unspeakable barbarity that those in attendance here from Japan know all too well. And that future Memorial will be a reminder to people everywhere that we must, above all, demand integrity from those who govern us politically and tolerance from those who lead us spiritually.
We’re here today because we are the ones who hear the voices of the dead calling for an end to violence and hatred – voices that are telling us to rise above our fear in order to have a coherent and compassionate dialogue about the root causes of murderous strife; telling us that we need to shed our doubts about what a mere handful of believers can do; telling us that amid the ashes that covered this city two years ago and Hiroshima and Nagasaki 58 years ago, and amid the blood-soaked killing fields in countless nations overseas, we will find the wisdom, grace, unity and strength we need so that on some future September 11th, when we look around us, we will see a better world.