Left Justified: First Anniversary: A Memorial to Our Strength

Left Justified: First Anniversary: A Memorial to Our Strength

By Stanley Campbell

It’s been a year since the atrocities committed on September 11, 2001. It’s been a year since many of us saw for the first time, on live television, airliners smashing into the World Trade Center towers; and then, almost minutes later, the towers crumbling to the ground.

It’s been a year since the Pentagon was attacked, and an airplane full of civilians overcame hijackers and were killed in a field in Pennsylvania.

Those were life-changing days. All the airlines stopped flying. The people focused on the news, and the news was shown continuously on all stations. Things got back to normal along with the first advertisement on CNN. By the time QVC went back on the air, many of us had resumed our normal lives.

But there was a lot going on with our government. Stringent new laws affecting our freedoms were passed, billions were spent hunting down the terrorists, and hundreds of billions more are earmarked to beef up the strongest military force the world has ever seen.

On this first anniversary, Rockford will join with others to commemorate the day that changed our lives. The biggest event should be the evening interfaith prayer service at 7 p.m. at Davis Park. I’ll be coordinating a reading of obituaries from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. this Wednesday, September 11, in front of New American Theater, downtown. You are invited to share in the readings as well as the interfaith prayers.

But I want to encourage people to look beyond the anger and hatred that these murderers naturally elicit. When some Rockford Neanderthals attacked the Albaraka Bakery on Broadway, many people came to their defense and rallied around the Islamic owners. Even the mayor came and supported them, especially during the reopening ceremony (good going, Doug!). But we still hear of churches, Christian churches, who attack all Arabs and the Islamic faith from their pulpits and who encourage, as Jerry Falwell said, “invasion of those countries and the forced conversion of their peoples to Christianity.”

Sometimes I think that is on the mind of our president as he plans on warring with Iraq, taking on Iran, and supporting Israel over the Palestinians. It seems like our president and Jerry Falwell inhabit the same brain. Jerry is the evil Mr. Hyde, and George W. is the mild-mannered Dr. Jekyll.

I am hosting a special Coffee Talk program on Monday, September 9, 7:30p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church. We will be hearing from area peace activists on their activities over this last year. Believe me, the peace movement has gone through a lot of changes and continues to metamorphose as they find a way of drawing Americans back from the brink of international war. I hope you can find something meaningful to do this next week as we commemorate the first anniversary of 9-11.

Stanley Campbell is executive director of Rockford Urban Ministries and spokesman for Rockford Peace & Justice.

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