You’ve heard this one before:
When my uncle died during the Attacks on September 11th, 2001, I was shocked and appalled that people would be capable of doing such a thing. That there would be so much violence and hatred in the world, concentrated to one point, was unbelievable. At first there was just a loss for words, a bone-shattering fear, and an unquenchable need for quietude. Then slowly, with the help of others, we were able to look up, emerge from the hidden corners of our basements, tiptoe into the daytime so that we could feel the green grass under our bare feet. Then out of the darkness and into the light we realized that no one should ever have to feel this way. That our pain and suffering should not be afflicted on anyone else. Even if in the name of justice for those whom we had lost.
That’s a story shared in different ways by many Peaceful Tomorrows members. Most of these members were adults or teenagers at the time. However, I was just beginning elementary school.
When my mom told me what had happened, I didn’t know what to think. I didn’t know how to think. I learned about death, and how to cope with it, and how to make actions for peace, from watching others. After years of therapy, school, college, adventures, Zumba, and ritual nights of fast food, I find myself now a young man with choices to make about which direction I want to go in life. I am organizing the virtual film festival with fellow members of September Eleventh Families for Peaceful Tomorrows and have had the great opportunity to talk with many amazing people because of it (such as Mohamedou Salahi, an innocent former inmate of Guantánamo).
I am now 26 years old, which means I was only six when 9/11 occurred. I remember it vividly, however. It was a terrible, tragic, and eye-opening situation, which changed my life forever. But I am the last generation with such firsthand recollection of 9/11. People old enough to vote, drink, and go to war now have no memory of the Attacks that September, or weren’t even alive.
They do not remember the world coming together. They do not remember what it felt like when we
were lied to about Iraq. Most know little about Guantánamo Bay. 20 Years Later we need to think about their story and how we can tell them ours. People don’t all know us. People forget about 9/11. Therefore, as the commemoration of the Attacks approaches, as the world once again turns its eye, the most important, most vital, thing we need to think about is how to pass our own stories to them so that these stories can inform their own.
It is our goal that no one anywhere will be a victim or a family member to a victim of violence. In these efforts we are sincerely grateful for your ongoing support. Please consider donating, and keep a look out for more news of our ongoing film festival, with a selection of films curated to tackle the education of 9/11 to reach our peers and the next generation.
In Peace, Ari Radcliffe-Greene
Nephew of Donald Freeman Greene, United Flight 93 Passenger
Film Festival Organizer/Organizing Committee: 20 Years Later: A Peace and Justice Film Festival