In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the fourth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks could have passed quietly.
The Columbia Peace Coalition, however, sought to remind the community that the anniversary also marks the fourth year of the post-Sept. 11 U.S. military presence in the Middle East.
The coalition sponsored the No More Victims memorial Sunday evening at Courthouse Square. Dozens attended the event, including numerous families. The memorial commemorated the deaths of Sept. 11 victims as well as casualties of the subsequent military operations.
While speakers, musical groups and a candlelight vigil were the highlights of the evening, members of the coalition and other human rights organizations also staffed information booths relating to peace and reconciliation.
Wiley Miller, a member of the American Civil Liberties Union, reminded the crowd of the history of the conflicts and explained the possible implications of the Patriot Act in citizens’ lives. Miller also called upon individuals in the crowd to take action in shaping the future of U.S. involvement overseas by contacting both state and local representatives.
“We have a lot of infrastructure for war, but not enough for peace,” Miller said.
Another speaker, Sharon Welch of Global Action to Prevent War, noted the current, cyclical trend of revenge and retribution worldwide.
Global Action to Prevent War works to provide institutional alternatives to war. Current efforts include a proposal to the United Nations that would establish a team of trained peace negotiators, as well as programs in which school-age children learn mediation techniques.
“There’s a connection between bullying as kids and bullying as a nation,” Welch said.
In addition to several local bands, the Buds of Peace, a musical group made up of 7- to 11-year-old girls from various cultural and ethnic backgrounds, sang a song about the value of friendship and peace.
“We believe it’s high time to say ‘enough’ and begin a process of healing,” said Peaceworks Director Mark Haim.