Sara Kirschenbaum
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A Quiet Peace Action At Ground Zero

Posted Tuesday, May 03rd, 2011 at 6:13pm

I happened to be visiting my parents in New York when the news came that Osama Bin Laden had been killed in Pakistan. My parents live only 7 blocks from ground zero and I have always been one to be drawn to an historical moment (When my mom took me to City Hall when I was very young, I screeched, "Mom, look! They're making laws! Real laws!").

So I headed down to Ground Zero along with crowds of people drawn to the spot. When I was about two blocks away, I saw this chilling ad on a telephone booth:

ad

I kept walking and saw these two young people carrying peace signs:

peace

It was hard to read their posters fast enough but I got a sense that they were questioning killing in the name of peace. I snapped this picture and am happy to be able to read at least one of the posters. I also see a scared look on one of their faces. And indeed, as I walked on, I heard someone behind me make fun of them and their posters. I turned and said I liked their message.

I kept walking with the growing crowd. I could see tons of television cameras:

camera

And police officers:

police

I looked up into the airspace that used to hold the towers and saw a news helicopter and eerily, a plane:

air

You can also see the new tower being built:

new

Attached to the fence around the World Trade Center site, I found these sad reminders of loss:

sad

It was around this time that I started having a bad feeling about the jubulation over the killing of Osama Bin Laden. I was happy that he was stopped from doing anymore harm, but wondered if he had to be killed without being brought to judicial justice. I thought: "Here I am in the right place to make a statement for peace. Dare I?" I walked quickly to Staples, office supply store, two blocks from the old towers and bought two boxes of colored chaulk ($.99/ each). I thought that I really wanted to write something down and hoped if it was in chaulk that I wouldn't get arrested. About a block from the Ground Zero site, amid crowds and police, I knelt down and wrote this:

Why?

So far so good, no arrests. Although one police office came closer to me and watched me. I wrote:

to show

I was shaking now. And then a man came up and smeared the whole thing with his shoe. I thought of my wonderful mentor in the peace movement in Ohio, John Looney, and added his name, an American flag, and then on second thought, I emptied the box of chaulk so anyone could add their sentiments:

John

You can see it is smudged out too.

I was sweating now but I thought I would try to write it one more time, closer to the actual center of the Ground Zero action. What did I have to lose? I just worried that someone might jump me. But I wrote it one more time:

Why?2

I was happy to see the writing surrounded by people clicking photos. The news media was close and I thought that maybe someone might notice. But I was scared of being hurt so I slipped away. On the way home I saw this tragic sight:

homeless

So much to think about!

38 comments

  1. Bev Woodsong Wrote on Thursday, May 05th, 2011 at 11:50am

    I'm so proud of what you accomplished in New York, Sara. I'm sorry I wasn't there to help give you strength "to carry on...". Wouldn't it have been nice to have more of us there like the two young people carrying the signs questioning the madness. The almighty powerful U.S. propaganda messages to the world, only condones more violence, it is truly sad. Thank you so much for sending me this post, it is so refreshing to see, hear and be with others who doubt & question all that we are being forced fed.

  2. cathy chisholm Wrote on Thursday, May 12th, 2011 at 5:50pm

    I'm glad you're back Sara, and thanks for leaving your chalked message on the pavement at personal risk. You speak for me and many others. See you at clay studio!!

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