This year, September 11th felt normal. Last year, my first year in New York, my building hosted all day concerts in our lobby. I remember co-workers sharing stories of where they were on September 11 and we streamed the reading of names on our computers. Perhaps this was because it was our first September 11 together. I suppose in America that can be a bonding ritual of sorts. This year was business as usual.
I walked out of my apartment this evening and saw the memorial lights blaring from the southern tip of Manhattan and I remembered. Seven years ago today was an awful day. Thousands of lives were lost in senseless violence and destruction. My co-worker's husband was with the NYPD in 2001 and the memories still haunt him. He spent the day on his motorcycle riding down to Philly for cheese steaks, clearing his mind as the nation remembers the day our world fell apart. For too many families, today marks the 7th year anniversary of the last time they saw their loved ones. My heart goes out to those families.
As I remember the tragic events of September 11th, 2001, I am moved by the lost American lives to pursue reconciliation. Many of the families of those lost in those attacks came together to form Peaceful Tomorrows, crying out "Our grief is not a warcry." Today they issued this statement,
I can't help but extend my heart to the families of thousands of Afghans and Iraqis that are similarly missing loved ones. I remember sitting in the lunch room on September 11, 2001 and upon learning that the towers had collapsed, one of my friends said, "Someone is going to get bombed." Violence begets violence.
In Iraq last week, we attended a meeting of an Iraqi organization called LaOnf, which in Arabic translates to "no violence." It is an organization started four years ago that is devoted to the teachings of Ghandi and Martin Luther King, "absolute nonviolence no matter what." They have pledged themselves to this concept and are willing to risk their lives to spread a culture of nonviolence in every province of Iraq. While we experienced one day of terror, for them, every day is 9/11. We will stand in solidarity with LaOnf on this anniversary and spread the word across this land - that non violence and the recognition of our common humanity are the only way forward to the survival of this earth. This year, let us remember them, too.
In 2001-2002, an estimated 3,600 civilians were killed in Afghanistan. We made up for September 11th. Over 1,000 civilians are killed in that country by Coalition forces every year. Violence begets violence. As we read the names of American, September 11th victims, will we read the names of the Afghan victims?
My former Marine neighbor tells me that the military's Iraqi civilian death count was at 38,000 when he left a year ago. The actual was probably higher. Today he guesses the 'official count' is somewhere close to 60,000. iCausalities puts causalities at over 43,000 since April 28, 2005. Iraq Body Count estimates as high as 95,000. Violence begets unspeakable violence.
Our earth is groaning, God is weeping. I want to beat some swords into plowshares.