September 11th Family Members Return From Iraq

Delegation Challenges World Leaders to Win Without War

NEW YORK CIT Y– Returning from six days of making people-to-people contacts at schools, hospitals and universities in Baghdad and Basra, Iraq, family members of September 11 victims challenged world leaders to -use some imagination” to find alternatives to military action in that nation. The four-member delegation represents September 11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, an advocacy group seeking effective, non-violent alternatives to war and terrorism.

-During our trip, I met a people who want their country healthy again, and their children happy,” said Kat Tinley, whose Uncle, Mike Tinley, perished at the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001. -Like much of the world, the people of Iraq have known violence entirely too long, and they long for peace.”

-We talked with the teachers of a primary school who described the hopes they have for their students,” added Terry Rockefeller, who lost her sister, Laura Rockefeller, at the twin towers. -We found a striking commonality in our grief for lost loved ones and our dreams for our children.”

The delegation also visited the Amariyah bomb shelter and met relatives of the hundreds of civilians who died after a U.S. missile struck the shelter on February 14th, 1991.

-The personal connections we made with the people of Iraq have been very deep and meaningful,” said Kristina Olsen, whose sister Laurie Neira, was aboard Flight 11 on September 11, 2001. -Meeting with sick children and families who have lost loved ones has underscored the importance of the human bond that we share in our mutual suffering.”

Colleen Kelly, who lost her brother, Bill Kelly, Jr., at the World Trade Center, added, -In Iraq, we have begun to realize our hope of connecting a human face and story to the people of Iraq. This has only deepened our resolve to petition the governments of this world to explore every viable, peaceful alternative to the crisis here, using creative and perhaps non-conventional diplomacy.”

In a press conference at the U.N. Church Center in New York City, the delegation also recognized that January 15 was the birthday of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose 1967 declaration that -wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows” provided the inspiration for the group’s name.

September 11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows was launched on February 14, 2002, and today includes more than 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 work 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.

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September Eleventh Families for Peaceful Tomorrows is a project of Tides Center.

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