In Memory of 9/11: Let Us Wage Peace
Today, like communities all across the nation, citizens of Iowa City held a commemorative service for those who died in the 9/11/2001 attacks. The messages shared were clear: While we honor and remember the victims of that day and the heroes who emerged, we must not let the events divide us as a nation. We are diverse in religion, custom, culture, and race; yet we are one people. The event was organized by the Consultation of Religious Communities, and hosted by Mel Schlacter, a priest at Trinity Episcopal Church.
Speakers included religious leaders from local Muslim, Jewish, and Christian congregations, as well as political leaders and representatives of firefighters, police, and national guard. Each speaker received applause, but none so loud nor so long as Ed Flaherty. His words are potent reminders of the priorities we must keep in mind if we truly wish to build a just and peaceful world. We share them with you here. ~Julia Wasson, Publisher
We all speak today of healing, understanding, and peacemaking.
The images of September 11, 2001 are etched in our minds. But we need to be more concerned with what we have done with 9/11 than with 9/11 itself.
Yes, we mourn the loss of so many innocent victims. We laud the heroism of the firefighters and so many others. And we will always be outraged at the inhumanity of the attackers. But I don’t think that the 2,977 victims on 9/11 died to usher in a period of perpetual war.
We must remember that the tragedy of 9/11 was used as an opportunity for war—how to initiate war on Iraq was on the lips of our leaders the day after.
We need to add to our minds’ images the 6,236 U.S. armed services personnel who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan; the 40,000+ who bear visible wounds; the 400,000+ who bear the invisible wounds of PTSD [post traumatic stress disorder] and TBI [traumatic brain injury]; and, yes, the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi and Afghan dead. We must remember it all, if we are to heal.
We must do more than remember.
We must honor the victims of 9/11 by welcoming home all U.S. troops currently in Iraq by the end of this year. We must honor the victims of 9/11 by proclaiming loudly that the ten-year, $300 million-per-day war in Afghanistan, the longest in our history, has gone on long enough. Honor the victims of 9/11 by saying “NO” to a US military budget that is nearly equal to that of all other countries combined.
In the words of President Eisenhower, “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”
Or, earlier words, “Wheresoever your treasure is, there your heart is also.”
Wars are much easier to start than to end. Let us take up the heavy, sweet burden of waging peace.
Ed Flaherty, President
Veterans for Peace, Chapter #161
Iowa City, Iowa
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