Statements made by loved ones of people killed in the suicide attacks on September 11 |
Compiled by Voices in the Wilderness
Following the tragedies that occurred on September 11, 2001, several individuals spoke to the world words that represented an extraordinary spiritual depth and courage. Even as they mourned their loss of beloved family members and close friends, they sought assurance that the deaths of their loved ones would not be used to justify attacks against other innocent civilians.
Their message could be summed up in a simple phrase held on banners by many people in the last several weeks: "Our grief is not a cry for war." Here are some examples:
Rupert Eales-White (brother, Gavin Cushny)
." Gavin Cushny's brother Rupert Eales-White stated, "If military action results in the deaths of innocent Afghans then 100 more Bin Ladens will rise from the grave." [The Independent, 9/22, http://commondreams.org/headlines01/0922-01.htm]
Published on Saturday, September 22, 2001 in the Independent/UK
Relative's Warning Against Retaliation by Terri Judd
The brother of a British victim of the World Trade Center attack warned yesterday against the consequences of killing "hundreds of innocent Afghans". Rupert Eales-White said his brother, Gavin Cushny, had been an opponent of American foreign policy in the Middle East. Mr Cushny, 47, a computer consultant for Cantor Fitzgerald, worked on the 104th floor of the north tower and remains missing feared dead. Mr Eales-White said: "The ironic thing is, my brother was actually a
strong opponent of American foreign policy, particularly in Israel. He sympathized with Palestinians who he felt had been treated unfairly since the state of Israel was created in 1948. "We don't want the terrorists to win and the perpetrators have to be caught. But if military action results in the deaths of innocent Afghans then 100 more [Osama] bin Ladens will rise from the grave."
MATTHEW LASAR http://www.lasarletter.com
September 15, 2001
Senator Dianne Feinstein
United States Senate
One Post Street, Suite 2450
San Francisco, CA 94104 fax: (415) 393-0710
cc: Hon. Nancy Pelosi
450 Golden Gate Ave., 14th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94102 email@example.com
Dear Senator Feinstein:
I write to share with you some very bad personal news. In fact, since you attended and listened yesterday to President Bush's sermon about the World Trade Center disaster, you already know about it. You may recall the President praising an unnamed man who "who could have saved himself," but instead "stayed until the end and at the side of his quadriplegic friend." That man was my uncle Abe, the brother of my mother. As USA Today reported yesterday, Abe Zelmanowitz, a computer
programmer, worked at the WTC. When the first airplane struck, Abe could not bear to abandon his wheelchair using colleague, and called his family via cell phone to say so. Despite their pleading, he insisted that he would stay behind. My
uncle and his colleague have been missing ever since. No hospital has news of their whereabouts. My mother, who lives twenty minutes from the collapsed buildings, is in a state of shock. I suppose that at this point you may expect this letter to demand bloody vengeance, total retaliation, and a general retrenchment of all the good things about our open society. But in truth I was alarmed at your speech in response to the terrible events of September 11th. Here is part of what you said:
"I think the United States must spare no effort to uncover, ferret out and destroy those: who commit acts of terrorism; who provide training camps; who shelter; who finance; and who support terrorists. Whether that entity is a state or an organization, those who harbor them, arm them, train them and permit them must, in my view, be destroyed."
I would appreciate some clarification on the last sentence. How do you propose to destroy states? Do you support the covert subversion of their societies? The carpet bombing of their populations? The eradication of their cities? The evisceration of their economies and the destruction of their water supplies, so that like Iraq, they are teeming with hopeless, desperate people ready to lash out in any way possible? Do you support the training and arming of their enemies, even if their enemies are just
as ruthless as the terrorists who attacked New York City? Isn't that the way the Afghani Taliban came to power?
And how do you propose to airtight our society against the tens of thousands of bitter, angry people who will be created by our impending ready-fire-aim war against terrorism? If we reinforce our airports, what about our sports stadiums? our bridges? our giant theaters? our dams? our overseas embassies? What I see coming are actions and polices that will breed more terrorism, not less.
My uncle's compassionate, heroic sacrifice will not be honored by what the United States government appears poised to do. Please do not imagine that you do it in his name; or in mine.
Very truly yours, Matthew Lasar
Rita Lassars statement on Amy Goodmans Democracy Now was very powerful.
US VS. THEM
In the ordinary sense of the word, Abe Zelmanowitz was no hero. A saint maybe, but not a hero: Heroes die saving other people's lives. Those two guys who, in the midst of their own hurried flight, paused at the 68th floor of the World Trade Center to carry a disabled woman 68 floors to safety -- those guys are heroes. Abe accomplished nothing, really, except to decide on Sept. 11, 2001, as the twin towers of death and fear filled his 27th-floor office, just what kind of man he would be. We can't control death; it comes to us all in the end. But that choice, Abe's choice, we keep to the end: What kind of person will I be?
Abe, a 55-year-old computer programmer, was a devout Jew who read the Torah daily. "Why are you still in there?" his brother Jack demanded when Abe called soon after the first plane hit. Why? Because his friend Ed, a paraplegic, was also there. "You've got to get out of there," Jack said frantically. But Abe couldn't, or rather wouldn't. He couldn't save Ed's life. But he wouldn't become the kind of guy who leaves a paralyzed friend to die alone.
Death comes to us all, but not all of us get to be Abe Zelmanowitz before we die.
Now we are at war, and war is always us vs. them. But who is the us that is at war? Abe's question: Who are we going to choose to be? In the raw emotions unleashed by this act of war, the danger is we will lapse from our high sense of common moral purpose and lash out at each other.
Judy Keane, who lost her husband Richard, said:
"Bombing Afghanistan is just going to create more widows, more homeless, fatherless children." [CNN, 9/25; see also http://www.webactive.com/pacifica/exile/dn20010921.html]
CNN LIVE AT DAYBREAK
America's New War: Family Pleas for Peace
Aired September 25, 2001 - 08:55 ET
With a high percentage of Americans favoring military action in Afghanistan it's easy to assume that virtually everyone wants to get even with Osama bin Laden or whoever was responsible for the attacks here in the United States.But as CNN's Maria Hinojosa reports, not everyone is in a vengeful spirit, even those who might have plenty of reason.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MARIA HINOJOSA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The sign of patriotism looms large over the Keane house in
Connecticut, a house in mourning over the loss of Richard Keen, a businessman, father of five, a grandfather, a good husband.
JUDY KEANE, WIFE OF VICTIM: He was a peaceful man.
HINOJOSA: And a former soldier.
KEANE: He was a marine and served during the Vietnam conflict.
HINOJOSA: But Judy Keen believes now he would want peace, not war.
KEANE: All I am asking right now is that we be very, very thoughtful and patient and consider all of our options before we plunge headlong into war.
HINOJOSA: In the park outside her home signs from a peace vigil. On the front page of a local newspaper, her opposition to war makes headlines.In her heart, next to sadness, there is fear.
KEANE: I am very, very fearful for my children. I've lost my husband. I don't want to lose my children to a war. And I do not want any other woman anywhere in the world to have to worry about the safety of her children either.
HINOJOSA (on camera): A recent poll shows that 90 percent of Americans support some form of military retaliation against the terrorists or the countries that support them, but not everyone who lost a loved one in the world trade centers wants revenge.
(voice-over): Orlando Rodriguez wrote a letter about war called "Not in Our Son's Name."
ORLANDO RODRIGUEZ, FATHER OF VICTIM: Our son died a victim of an inhuman ideology. Our actions should not serve the same purpose.
HINOJOSA: Gregory Elnester (ph) Rodriguez was 31 years old, married just one year, the father of a 10-year-old. He was on the 103rd floor of the first tower hit.
PHYLLIS RODRIGUEZ, MOTHER OF VICTIM: You think at first that it's going to make you feel better to hit the kid who bullied your kid, but if you take a deep breath and think about it, you realize that it is not a productive way to react.
HINOJOSA: But what about so many Americans who feel helpless and angry if the U.S. doesn't strike back.
RODRIGUEZ: When I hear talk of, thoughtless talk, of showing them how strong we are, I feel that -- I see people like my son, who just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time, I see people like my son dying in other lands, and that hurts me.
HINOJOSA: Tremendous hurt and pleas from the ones who have lost the most, who grieve now for peace. Maria Hinojosa, CNN, New York.
Amber Amundson lost her husband, Craig, in the Pentagon. She wrote in the Chicago Tribune [9/25,
Published on Tuesday, September 25, 2001 in the Chicago Tribune
A Widow's Plea for Non-Violence
by Amber Amundson
My husband, Craig Scott Amundson, of the U.S. Army lost his life in the line of duty at the Pentagon on Sept. 11 as the world looked on in horror and disbelief. Losing my 28-year-old husband and father of our two young children is a terrible
and painful experience. His death is also part of an immense national loss and I am comforted by knowing so many share my grief.
But because I have lost Craig as part of this historic tragedy, my anguish is compounded exponentially by fear that his death will be used to justify new violence against other innocent victims. I have heard angry rhetoric by some Americans, including many of our nation's leaders, who advise a heavy dose of revenge and punishment. To those leaders, I would like to make clear that my family and I take no comfort in your words of rage. If you choose to respond to this incomprehensible brutality by perpetuating violence against other innocent human beings, you may not do so in the name of justice for my husband.
Your words and imminent acts of revenge only amplify our family's suffering, deny us the dignity of remembering our loved one in a way that would have made him proud, and mock his vision of America as a peacemaker in the world community.
Craig enlisted in the Army and was proud to serve his county. He was a patriotic American and a citizen of the world.
Craig believed that by working from within the military system he could help to maintain the military focus on peacekeeping and strategic planning--to prevent violence and war. For the last two years Craig drove to his job at the Pentagon with a
"visualize world peace" bumper sticker on his car. This was not empty rhetoric or contradictory to him, but part of his dream. He believed his role in the Army could further the cause of peace throughout the world.
Craig would not have wanted a violent response to avenge his death. And I cannot see how good can come out of it. We cannot solve violence with violence. Mohandas Gandhi said, "An eye for an eye only makes the whole world blind." We will no longer be able to see that we hold the light of liberty if we are blinded by vengeance, anger and fear. I ask our nation's leaders not to take the path that leads to more widespread hatreds--that make my husband's death just one more in an unending spiral of killing.
I call on our national leaders to find the courage to respond to this incomprehensible tragedy by breaking the cycle of violence. I call on them to marshal this great nation's skills and resources to lead a worldwide dialogue on freedom from terror and hate.
I do not know how to begin making a better world: I do believe it must be done, and I believe it is our leaders' responsibility to find a way. I urge them to take up this challenge and respond to our nation's and my personal tragedy with a new beginning that gives us hope for a peaceful global community.
Amber Amundson is the wife of the late Craig Scott Amundson, an enlisted specialist in the Army.
Franciscan friar Cassian Miles of St. Francis of Assisi was parted from a dear friend, Reverend Father Mychal Judge, who died at the World Trade Center while administering last rites to another victim. Rev. Judge was a colleague and resident of the same monastery, whom Miles first met at seminary school on Sept. 11, 1951.
"The reality of what happened last Tuesday is that no one diedlife is changed, not ended," Miles says, quoting a popular Catholic prayer. "I dont mean to sound uncompassionate," he continues gently, "but when I see posters of people listed as missing, I wish I could say to their families, Your loved ones are not missing. They have gone to the fullness of eternal life."
Miles tries consoling members of his own congregation who are facing bereavement by conveying the idea "no one dies alone," often reaching for the Times obit section to prove his point. Surprisingly for a Catholic cleric, Miles himself takes comfort in near-death-experience stories. "People whove had one of these experiences and been revived always say someone told them that their mission on Earth was not yet finishedthat they were taken too early. We all have our part to play."
Rev Daniel Murphy Blessed Kateri Roman C. Church in Sparta NJ
Rev. Murphy was quoted in the NYT as saying that he had lost his youngest brother, Edward, a commodities trader at Cantor Fitzgerald, a firm in the World Trade Center that lost more than half of its work force in the attack. He felt tremenmdous sadness and tremendous pain for his mother, he said. But, he said, he has told people that he is not angry. Yes, we need to act to end terrorism, Fr. Murphy said, But we cannot allow our hearts to be filled with hatred, anger and
revenge. History teaches us that revenge builds upon revenge, and more revenge. It never ends. Yes, we need to seek justice. But we need to seek a justice based not on hatred or anger over what has happened, but rather out of concern for the future of all humanity.
PHYLLIS and ORLANDO RODRIGUEZ
Not in our son's name (letter of parents of son missing at World Trade Center)
Saturday, Sep 15, 2001 8:35pm
[Phyllis and Orlando Rodriguez's son Greg is one of the Trade Center victims.They have asked that people share this copy of letter sent to NY Times as widely as possible.]
Not in Our Son's Name
Our son Greg is among the many missing from the World Trade Center attack. Since we first heard the news, we have shared moments of grief, comfort, hope, despair, fond memories with his wife, the two families, our friends and neighbors, his loving colleagues at Cantor Fitzgerald / ESpeed, and all the grieving families that daily meet at the Pierre Hotel.
We see our hurt and anger reflected among everybody we meet. We cannot pay attention to the daily flow of news about this disaster. But we read enough of the news to sense that our government is heading in the direction of violent revenge, with the prospect of sons, daughters, parents, friends in distant lands dying, suffering, and nursing further grievances against us.
It is not the way to go. It will not avenge our son's death. Not in our son's name.
Our son died a victim of an inhuman ideology. Our actions should not serve the same purpose. Let us grieve. Let us reflect and pray. Let us think about a rational response that brings real peace and justice to our world. But let us not as a nation add to the inhumanity of our times.
Copy of letter to White House:
Dear President Bush:
Our son is one of the victims of Tuesday's attack on the World Trade Center. We read about your response in the last few days and about the resolutions from both Houses, giving you undefined power to respond to the
Your response to this attach does not make us feel better about our son's death. It makes us feel worse. It makes us feel that our government is using our son's memory as a justification to cause suffering for other sons and parents in other lands. It is not the first time that a person in your position has been given unlimited power and came to regret it.This is not the time for empty gestures to make us feel better. It is not the time to act like bullies. We urge you to think about how our government can develop peaceful, rational solutions to terrorism, solutions that do not sink us to the inhuman level of terrorists.
Phyllis and Orlando Rodriguez
Deora Bodley, daughter
The parents of Deora Bodley have spoken out. Her mother Deborah Borza said: "Let this passing be the start of a new conversation ... that provides a future for all mankind to live in harmony and respect." [San Francisco Chronicle, 9/22,
Deora Bodley, a Santa Clara University junior majoring in psychology and French, tutored children and spent the summer as a teacher's aide for second graders at St. Clare Catholic Elementary in Santa Clara, said principal Kathy Almazol.
"Deora always treated the kids respectfully, like she did her friends, and they responded to that," Almazol said. "She was a good role model and a lot of fun."
Bodley, who prided herself on physical fitness and often wore her curly brown hair in a ponytail, "had boundless energy," Almazol said. "She just captured the heart of our students."
Bodley, 20, graduated from La Jolla Country Day High School in San Diego, where she was a member of the track team and volunteered with several organizations, including the Special Olympics and an AIDS service group, according to
She is survived by her father, Darril Bodley of Stockton; and her mother, Deborah Guerra, of San Diego.
Jim Gartenburg, husband
Jill Gartenberg, whose husband Jim was killed, said that "we don't win by killing other people." [Fox, 9/24]
Sonia Puopolo, mother
Sonia Puopolo, of Massachusetts was a former ballet dancer who split her time between Miami and Boston, was flying to visit her son in Los Angeles. "I feel that I've lost my soulmate," her husband of 38 years, Dominic Puopolo, told The Miami Herald. She was born in Puerto Rico and was a key supporter of the Miami City Ballet.
It was a message of restraint that Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) heard when he called the family of Sonia Puopolo, 58, a former ballet dancer who was well-known as a philanthropist and Democratic fund-raiser in Boston and Miami.
On Tuesday, she was on her way from Boston to the Latin Grammys award show in Los Angeles when hijackers crashed her plane into one of the World Trade Center towers. "My mom was a nonviolent person. We believe in peace," her daughter Tita said Saturday. When Nelson called last week, she said, there was little that she and her father, Dominic, could ask him to do as a senator. "To do what? You can't bring my mother back," Tita Puopolo said. "I just asked him to pray."
Talking to the family, Nelson became so agitated that he immediately went to the Senate floor to relate what Dominic had just told him "about the 40-some years he had the privilege of knowing his wife, and the 37 years of marriage . . . where he met her in Puerto Rico." "For me, it put a personal face on the tragedy," Nelson said of the Puopolo family, which had strongly supported his Senate campaign. "And you just have all the more resolve that we're going to find out the perpetrators and we're going to get them, and we're going to take them out."
Professor Robin Therkauf lost her husband Tom in the attacks on the World Trade Centre on 11 September. She has spoken out against war and for justice, not vengeance.
Interview on the Today programme, BBC Radio 4, Tuesday 2 October 2001
Professor Robin Therkauf
'What we need less of is war rhetoric and war against Afghanistan in particular, and to explore the possibility of a judicial solution...
'The last thing I wanted was for more widows and fatherless children to be created in my name. It would only produce a backlash.
'As the victim of violence, I'd never want this to happen to another woman again.'
Are we at war?
[The Friend, 28 September 2001]
Robin Theurkauf's husband died in the attack on the World Trade Center. Even as she grieves, she has issued this call to look beyond military options.
My husband, Tom Theurkauf lost his life in the World Trade Center disaster. We all direct our grief in different ways, this is mine. I offer these thoughts both as a new widow and mother of three fatherless boys as well as a scholar of international law
We used to know what war was. It was the opposite of peace. Wars took place between states each with armies in uniforms and a hierarchical command structure. States went to war over territory or more recently over ideology. It is a legal status. One must declare it. At war's conclusion, we come to a peace agreement and return to a non-war condition.
This seems different. The enemy stays in the shadows even as they live among us, organised in loosely connected cells. No state has declared war against us, at least in the familiar way. The action was designed to spread fear and hate and so we
are not entirely sure what would be required to end this conflict.
As we assemble a military platform in the Persian Gulf it is worth considering the fact that while political scientists know very few things with any confidence, there is substantial consensus on at least one relevant point. While this attack was intended to provoke, responding in kind will only escalate the violence. Further, if we succumb to the understandable impulse to injure as we have been injured and in the process create even newer widows and fatherless children, perhaps we will deserve what we get.
Some have made the analogy to the attack on Pearl Harbour and in at least one way it is appropriate. In the aftermath of Pearl Harbour, thousands of young men volunteered to join the military. I can only imagine the success of radical Islam's recruiters after our bombs fall on their heads.
If not 'war', what words should we use? I think a better name is 'international crime'. Restating the problems refocuses the solution.
In the short term, the first priority should be to hunt down and arrest the criminals with the goal of achieving justice, not revenge. This is a task left not to the military but to investigative police forces, who can prepare for a trial.
Ordinary Americans also can take steps to fight back against this evil. We can combat fear and hate in part by reaching out to Muslims in our communities and by patronising Arab businesses. This show of solidarity will in part thwart these criminals' purpose of creating division in American communities.
In the long term, eradicating terrorism will require the elimination not of a group of people but rather of a set of ideas. Paradoxically, eliminating the people will reinforce and further legitimise the ideas. Terrorist impulses ferment in cultures of poverty, oppression and ignorance. The elimination of those conditions and the active promotion of a universal respect for human rights must become a national security priority.
Finally, the United States as a matter of policy must recognise and accept our vulnerability. In today's hyper-militarised environment, no state can ensure security within its borders without the cooperation of others.
The Bush administration's unilateralism has been revealed to be hollow. Rather than infringe on our sovereignty, international institutions enhance our ability to perform the functions of national government, including the ability to fight international crime.
Bombing Afghanistan today will not prevent tomorrow's tragedy. We must look beyond military options for long term solutions.
Robin Therkauf is a lecturer in the political science department at Yale University
Peace Can Come to Even the Most Implacable Foes
Newsday; Long Island, N.Y.; Oct 3, 2001;
Thomas Taafe. Thomas Taaffe is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and has been working in Northern Ireland since 1998
SINCE SEPT. 11, I've been tracking down family and friends. I had lived on Staten Island most of my life and, as my sister put it, "half of Staten Island worked in those buildings." I used to work there myself.
As they name the dead and the missing, I find friends and neighbors among them. I have spent days listening to survivors grieve, as most New Yorkers have.
Yet, as cries for revenge and war fill the air, I find myself chastened by my knowledge and experiences and fearful for the safety of family and friends. As an anthropologist who has worked in Northern Ireland, I have seen the consequences of
such war and its futility.
Northern Ireland is two-thirds the size of New Jersey, with about two-thirds the population of Brooklyn, and yet war dragged on for a quarter-century. Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's brutal attempts to crush the Irish Republican Army led to moments when it had so many volunteers its infrastructure could not handle them all. Although Northern Ireland is the most militarized landscape in western Europe (in terms of state security), paramilitaries of all stripes operated without fearing defeat, ever.
Imagine this process spreading across the planet. In the end, the British and the IRA admitted that they could not defeat each other and started to talk. Compromises reached and encompassed in the Good Friday agreement meant no side got
all it wanted, but that politics and compromise were preferable to war. After all, one does not make peace with one's friends but with one's enemies.
But 30 years of violence have made resolution very difficult, as the recent blockade of a Catholic girls' school showed. Those least affected by the conflict in the dominant community are the leading opponents to peace, encouraging others to resistance. The pain of the past stalks the present and makes reproach between communities more difficult.
Unfortunately, the grief we Americans now feel has also been felt by those who have been victimized by our policies. We sell more armaments to the world than all other countries combined. More than a decade ago, we trained and armed Osama bin Laden and the Taliban. Will those we now arm against the Taliban be any better?
We have directed and financed coups in Latin America, Asia and Africa, arming our "allies" while they killed their own people with impunity. How many Chileans died because we did not like their democratically elected government in 1973? Who killed 10,000 people in Panama so we could teach their corrupt leader that he couldn't walk away from the CIA?
Who financed and partially directed the massacre of thousands in Indonesia in 1965? Who helped transform Iraq into a military power? Did we turn on Saddam Hussein when he killed his own people or when he seemed to threaten our cheap
oil supply? How many people have died at the hands of the United States, its surrogates or its puppets in the last 40 years?
We have trained, financed and directed paramilitaries in Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua who target civilians as military strategy. We have carpet-bombed Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Iraq, hitting not only military targets but schools, homes and hospitals. Carpet-bombing reduces America's risk, but kills more non-U.S. civilians. It also makes more enemies.
How many Americans watched and cheered the Persian Gulf war as though it were Monday night football? How is that different from the people on the streets of Lebanon or Palestine who cheered this disaster?
I do not say these things to imply equivalence between tragedies, but to acknowledge our behavior in the world and its consequences. Through our military, economic and political policies, we have caused much grief in the world. We need to take ownership for that. A mother's tears are the same worldwide. Though every country has fostered such violence, only we can take responsibility for our own behavior.
It has been said that you must first take the beam out of your own eye before you can remove the splinter from another person's eye. This is a time for self- reflection, not cries for revenge. We cannot crush an international movement made up of thousands of people who willingly die for their cause, especially one of this magnitude. If we act recklessly, we will make that total millions of people. Those freedoms we cherish will be among the victims.
My words are not intended to excuse the horror of what was done Sept.11. But the sooner we acknowledge the hurt we have caused and consider why others hate us, the sooner we can take steps to make peace with our enemies. The longer we wait, the harder it will be to make peace. The funerals for my friends are starting to be scheduled and the time has come to lay them to rest. I am as angry as anyone over this disaster and I pray that it will never happen again. We need to change the way we behave in the world. I do not want to bury more of my friends, or - God forbid - my family. I pray others will not have to do so, either.