This week, the media will converge on ground zero, ready to milk the anniversary of 9-11. While the Bush administration claims to be acting on behalf of all Americans hurt by the attacks, a small but steadfast group of relatives of those killed on 9-11 continues to oppose the wars of retaliation being fought in their name. In simple, moving prose, writer David Potorti, who lost a brother at the World Trade Center, tells how this group of 80 grieving strangers came together as Peaceful Tomorrows, bound by the conviction that the deaths of their loved ones should not be used to justify the killing of innocent civilians abroad. Taking their name from a speech by Martin Luther King Jr. (“Wars are a poor choice for carving out peaceful tomorrows”), the group spoke out at anti-war rallies and traveled to Afghanistan and Iraq to meet with families torn apart by U.S. bombing raids.
Pundits have accused the group of being “naïve, unpatriotic pawns”; Potorti includes some of the remarkably cruel e-mails sent to the group’s website (peacefultomorrows.org), screeds that underscore how brave their anti-war effort has been. In one chapter, Kelly Campbell, whose partner’s brother was killed at the Pentagon, describes the sorrow expressed to her by an Afghan mother whose whole family was killed when a U.S. bomb flattened her house. “How incredible that they could feel compassion for Americans,” Campbell remarks. “How important that we build on this mutual sympathy.” As the violence escalates in both Iraq and Afghanistan, Peaceful Tomorrows offers a roadmap for other activists seeking peace against all odds. (On Wednesday, September 10, members of Peaceful Tomorrows will lead a candlelight vigil encircling the World Trade Center. Call 212-603-3700 for more information.)