Five years later: Peaceful tomorrows?
David Potorti of North Carolina lost his brother, James, in the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. His brother worked on the 94th floor, a direct hit from the first airplane, instantly killing James and 300 of his co-workers.
David channeled his grief into becoming a voice for peace. In an excellent interview this weekend with Democracy Now, he remembers the first action that he took with others who had lost loved ones on 9/11, but opposed the rush to war:
[We were] wrapped in the American flag, and we were all carrying signs that say, "No War in Afghanistan!" You know, "Stop the Bombing!" And they just cropped all of them out, so it was just the two of us, you know, grieving. And that was our first experience of the media covering us, but not really covering us.
David went on to join others in launching September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, which became a prophetic voice against using the 9/11 attacks to justify a reckless and imperial foreign policy.
In the interview, David observes how most of their media coverage came from overseas; the U.S. media, ever-fearful of appearing unpatriotic, wouldn't acknowledge their voices. Yet looking back, David says that the last five years has confirmed their worst fears:
JUAN GONZALEZ/DEMOCRACY NOW: And when you see what's happened in this country over the past five years in the name of fighting the war on terror, that really was sparked by 9/11, your sense of what's happening to the country?
DAVID POTORTI: Well, I'm just terrifically sad at what's happened. It just -- the fact that this is still being done in my brother's name and in the names of all these other people who died, it's just terrifically sad and anger-producing for me, that so many people in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in you know, Lebanon and Israel, or the Middle East, all of these civilian casualties are just growing and growing and growing out of September 11th. And we were talking about exactly this thing happening after 9/11.
David and others from Peaceful Tomorrows are now forming a new group that unites international victims of war. The 30 representatives, who hail from African to Ireland and Palestine, share a common philosophy:
Each of the men and women joining us has been personally affected by violence yet has rejected the idea of retaliating with further violence. Instead, they have successfully built bridges between groups previously in conflict, and have formed organizations to promote justice, reconciliation and genuine peace. Some have survived bombings and suffered physical loss. Some have lost family members, and others have lost extended families. Some have witnessed the terrors of war. Others have explored forgiveness and reconciliation as part of their healing process. Together we will meet to establish an international network, and to bring our messages to the American public.