BRIDGEWATER – Life was good for the Filipovs in the summer of 2001. They were having fun with friends, enjoying visits from their grandson and planning exciting trips abroad.
On Sept. 11, 2001, Al Filipov went away for what was to be a quick business trip. He looked around that beautiful morning before getting in his car as if to say how lucky he was. His wife Loretta blew him a kiss. He was planning to take the red-eye back on Friday, Sept. 14 to be home in Concord for their 44th wedding anniversary.
Loretta Filipov never saw her husband again. He was killed on Flight 11, the first to crash into the World Trade Centers.
After the tragedy, some of the couple’s friends seemed to expect Loretta Filipov to hate, she told a crowd of about 60 at Bridgewater State College. Filipov, a member of Sept. 11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, was the keynote speaker following a “counter inauguration” vigil last night on the Bridgewater Common.
But she thought to herself, “Hatred breeds hatred and violence breeds violence,” she said.
“The people who did this are dead. I want answers. I want accountability. I want to go talk to their mothers. I looked inside myself. There’s no place for revenge,” said Filipov, a retired medical assistant with three sons. Filipov, who opposes the war in Iraq, added, of the hijackers’ mothers, “of course, none of them are Iraqis.”
“War isn’t always the answer. Peace takes more work. My feeling is Iraq was already on the agenda. They were in their glory when Sept. 11 happened,” she said.
Filipov said finding Peaceful Tomorrows was like finding a second family. Peaceful Tomorrows is an organization of family members of people killed on Sept. 11 who work for peace. The group, which was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2003, has 150 members in six countries and 27 states, Filipov said.
She said the war in Iraq has
lead to torture, “fueled the flames of terrorism and left all of us around the world less safe.”
“Every day this president invokes Sept. 11. He uses it for political purposes to push the war,” she said.
She doesn’t want Sept. 11 used to justify what she considers an unjust war in her husband’s name. The war goes against everything Alexander Filipov, an engineer, stood for, his wife said.
“I absolutely consider myself a patriot,” she said.
“He (Bush) doesn’t own patriotism. He doesn’t own God. God isn’t a Republican or a Democrat. I wouldn’t be here without my church and faith community, but it’s not us versus them. What’s so different about our bombing those innocent people and their coming here in their planes? And I say that as someone whose husband was killed,” she said.
Alexander Filipov was a man filled with joy, optimism, intelligence, with a love of all races and religions. He was curious about people and accepted everyone for who they are, she said.
He was a great father, a little league coach, a Boy Scout leader, a man who taught his sons to love nature, a wonderful story teller, a member of Concord’s Human Rights Council and an active member of their church. She still can’t get through a talk about him without choking up. She misses him more than she can say. She speaks out to make a difference.
“I knew he wouldn’t want me to be angry and tried to find ways to honor him,” she said.
She established the Al Filipov Peace & Justice Forum – an annual event at their church in which a speaker discusses peace and justice from a faith perspective.
People tell Loretta Filipov her husband didn’t die in vain.
“When we finally begin to achieve peace, then I will believe Al’s death served some purpose,” she said.