The families of the victims of the 2001 terror attacks have been a powerful force in Washington and New York. Their vocal persistence and moral suasion forced the White House to accept an independent investigation on the attacks of Sept. 11, and they doggedly monitored the subsequent hearings. Then, they helped overcome White House reluctance to appoint a national director of intelligence.
In Manhattan and Albany, the families have been important in shaping plans for a World Trade Center memorial and in preserving remnants of the site that were fated to be buried under a basement garage.
But now the families are taking on their newest and possibly most daunting challenge: to make common cause with thousands of other international victims, not only to foster mutual support, but also to discredit global terrorism itself.
Some have already proffered aid and expertise to victims’ groups from other countries. Others believe that by doggedly continuing to tell their heartbreaking stories of pain and remembrance, they can put a human face on those who have died.
In this way, they say, they hope to challenge terrorists’ attempts to stereotype victims as infidels, capitalist tools or ciphers lacking humanity.
Ultimately some of the families hope that in bringing their high-powered advocacy to a new level, they may make it more embarrassing, or even impossible, to romanticize or legitimize terrorist acts.
"It would be the height of arrogance for the 9/11 families to think that our experience is so unique that it isn’t connected to victims beyond our borders," said Thomas Rog