When Center for Living Peace founder Kelly Smith is traveling from one peacemaking event to the next, she’s blogging.
Redeye. New York to Los Angeles
8:42 AM – 9/11/11 – NYC Close to Ground Zero
The silence in New York City this morning was powerful. It sounded like music and mourning and respect. I left my room numbered 911 (yep 911) overlooking the Liberty Tower construction and arrived close to Ground Zero at 8:42 AM, where I heard what sounded like a church choir. The walk down had been quiet, with a few joggers running the opposite way. I followed the sound of the music to see groups of policeman walking in formal uniforms and families wearing photos of their loved ones passing through a security gate.
Others were wandering the silent streets. I asked the guard how to pass. She said that without an invitation it would be best to find a TV.
I saw children holding American flags, flags at half staff, lines of trash trucks and tow trucks and police cars and vans full of silent public servants just waiting there if needed.
A bit later someone told me to go to church. I thought they meant a building but then I saw Church Street and the lines to get in. I passed through security and found myself walking toward a large screen with Paul Simon’s image as he sung, “The Sound Of Silence.” The sound went straight to my heart.
And then those heroes stood before me listing the names, the many, many names. I felt a profound sense of love. Everyone was there to honor and remember. Children stood and read parts of the list and then the name of their parent, the one so many told them they looked like or acted like. A procession of those left behind took turns listing the names of those lost. They thanked them for laughter and pennies, blew kisses to the sky, and spoke of their courage. We all stood in the sound of silence and respect.
A group making a documentary for Korea asked me what I experienced 10 years ago and what I experienced today. My voice unexpectedly broke as I said, “I remember the fear, but today I see the strength.” When they saw my tears, they asked me what upset me most. “Seeing the children speak,” I said, thinking of my own.
They asked how I felt about those who had caused the attacks. How I felt about Muslims. Did I forgive? What could I do as an American now?
Her choice of words struck me hard. Muslim. Forgive. American.
What I chose is to realize how important each individual is. That is what I saw at the memorial. As each name was read, each life was honored. No one asked of the victims’ religions, their races, their job titles, or their politics. No one asked if they forgave. The family members spoke of their love for those lost, their special gifts, and what they each shared during their sacred lifetime.
As I relived 9/11 at the memorial, I felt grateful for the reminder to share what I can, to use my energies to make GOOD HAPPEN. I don’t remember what else I said, caught up in the emotion of the day, but I handed her my card, and told her about the mission of the Center for Living Peace. That we believe peace can be lived and experienced in all aspects of our daily lives – it is in the way we care for our environment, appreciate arts and culture, and in every word we speak and every action we take. She and the rest of her crew for whom she translated nodded and smiled shyly.
How can you make GOOD HAPPEN and Live Peace? Here are things you can do:
End Violence in the name of religion by signing the petition at www.themissingmdg.com. ArchBishop Desmond Tutu (Nobel Laureate for Peace), Professor Mohammed Yunus, The Crown Prince and Princess of Norway all signed the petition as well. Please support their tireless efforts to make the world a much better place. Together, we can keep everyone accountable for a concerted global effort to END violence in the name of Religion.
Or maybe you want to honor the victims of 9/11 by supporting the memorial at the sight of Ground Zero.
Or maybe you want to find more ways to live peace in your own life. www.GOODHAPPENS.org
Peace Out, Kelly.