COLUMBIA — "We are one body in this one love."
The folk band Caravan sang these lyrics at the start of an event dedicated to ending the violence caused by the events of Sept. 11.
The theme of this year's anniversary event, hosted by the Columbia Peace Coalition, was "United for Peace and Justice," and those attending were hopeful that recent events like Terry Jones' threats to burn Qurans could lead to a more tolerant future.
"Maybe it will awaken people to the idea that they should let people be who they are," said Columbia resident and Mid-Missouri Peaceworks member Joan Mudrick.
Around 50 people attended the event at A.P. Green Chapel, said Mid-Missouri Peaceworks director Mark Haim. The event has happened every year since the attacks, including the night after they occurred.
"Our message that very first night was 'condemn the tragedy, don't compound it,'" Haim said. "Unfortunately, our government did not listen to us."
The question of tolerance in America should be based on mutual respect, Mudrick said.
“They’re all religions, and they’re all right,” she said. “No one religion has the right to tell another they’re not right.”
The speakers didn't just blame the government. MU Professor Larry Brown, one of two speakers for the night, said all Americans could also be culpable for continued violence and war as a result of 9/11.
"There is no difference between acts of terror, acts of war and support for a war that terrorizes," Brown said. "We all are terrorists in that scheme."
Brown suggested that policymakers and citizens take a more reasoned view of how best to achieve peace.
“We’re not gonna get peaceful results from violent action,” he said. “Let’s be rational.”
The other speaker, the Rev. Heather Morgan of Columbia Hope Church, said the process to make peace from the tragedy of 9/11 was not yet over.
“As a nation, we continue to mourn, and rightly so,” Morgan said. “This grief process, the work of lamenting, the work of forgiveness and the process of healing take a long, long time.”
Morgan said emerging from this process required cooperation between religious groups and could not rely on retribution.
"For restorative justice to fully replace retributive justice over time, we must all work together," she said.
After both speakers finished their presentations, Caravan played one last song, singing "peace be to me, peace be to you" as the bells of Memorial Union rang out. The crowd then took candles and stood under the arch of the union.
Mudrick said the speakers inspired her to take action for peace and tolerance in Columbia.
“It’s given me an opportunity to think about what I can do,” Mudrick said.
Mudrick said she wanted to bring flowers to the mosque downtown as an act of goodwill towards Muslims in the Columbia community.
“That simple action would just show them that someone out there cares,” she said.