Cover Syndic No.18 “Remembering 9/11”
Syndic Literary Journal

Poem ∼ “Remembering 9/11” by Taki Yuriko ∼ Page 1

Taki Yuriko

“Peace Movements of the Bereaved Families of 9/11”

(Translated by John and Deborah Saxon)

                                                                                                 September 11, 2001
No one inside or outside the World Trade Center
Sensed its imminent collapse.
In the emergency staircase
They descended in an orderly fashion
While making way
For firemen coming up.

Moments later, from the upper floor windows
Of the WTC skyscrapers
Many people leaned their bodies out
Signaling for help.
Someone even waved a towel.
Then the people rained down
Most with arms outstretched
Some imitating the breast stroke
Some frozen in place, with legs crossed,
Some clinging to each other.
One tried to lay out as if skydiving.
One mustered up the courage to actually jump.
The ground far below was hell.
The people smashed into the ground
Like a watermelon bursting on impact.
Those shut inside elevators
Waited stoically for death.

Three days after 9/11
The eyes of the world
Were fixed on Ground Zero,
Hoping that someone might yet be alive
Under the debris.

The dead numbered almost 3000,
Including many firemen
Who answered calls for help,
And those who were aboard
The hijacked flights.
On that day, that number of bereaved families
Was also born.
There were also some Japanese.
Mr. Shiratori lost his son Atsushi, who was 36.
He was working on the north tower’s 105th floor.
After high school graduation, he had entered
An exchange program at an American university,
Then got a job in finance and remained.
As a businessman in finance, his days prospered.
Mr. Shiratori owned a pub in Tokyo.
His son filled him with pride.

Although 3000 were killed on 9/11
It was not a “war of aggression.”
It was a huge crime, a large scale murder,
A massive act of terrorism.
According to international law,
Necessary conditions were not met
For starting a “War of Self Defense”.
In the past, such cases were handled
As murder cases.
By exercising police power,
International cooperation tracked down the criminals,
Arrested and tried them in a court of law,
And only when guilt was established,
Punished them via the judicial system
In accordance with the law.

However, although the USA brands itself
As a “law-and-order” state, the American government
Spurned these fundamental procedures
And instead immediately declared war. *
1
Without due process,
And with the slogan “Remember 9/11!”
It embraced revenge,
Acting with sudden violence.
That is how the USA escalated

This criminal act, this murder case
Into war between countries.

9/11 marks the so-called “War on Terrorism,”
When the world began moving away from
Its system of International Law,
A moment that marked a turning point in our history.

And then, in 2003
The American government embraced
Revenge as a great moral cause,
To justify its preemptive,
Terror prevention attacks on Iraq,
A country which had not killed a single American.
The claim that Iraq had nuclear weapons
Was eventually shown to be false.
The Japanese government also backed
America’s invasion of Iraq.
From 2003 to 2008,
A report by WHO
Estimated the number of civilian deaths
At 151,000.
Then, by 2011,
Investigations by Amy Hagopian’s team
At Washington University showed that
The total had surpassed 400,000.
(reported in Plos Medicine as well as
National Geographic News, 10/07/2013, Japanese version)
With 30,000 Afghani deaths, the total
At the very least
Approached 450,000 civilians deaths,
Not counting the near 5,000 dead soldiers
From America and its coalition partners.
From the dead was born that same number
Of grieving families.

In the name of “preventing terrorism”
Surveillance of American citizens was stepped up.
45 days after 9/11
Came the USA Patriot Act. **
2
Not just “personal information”, such as
Health records and bank accounts, was gathered,
But wiretapping of citizens was made legal.
Even library book transaction records could be examined.
What each person thought in his own mind became fair game.

 Everyone’s sense of “right to privacy”,
Of “human rights”
Was assaulted.
“Safety first” became the priority.
Muslims became
A single “other” in an
Ever-more hostile environment.

           

“Peaceful Tomorrows” is a group
Established by the families of American victims
Of the 9/11 terror attacks.
At the UN, they announced,
“Our politicians should not use
The grief of the bereaved families
To justify military action.
Because our loved ones happened to be
In the wrong place at the wrong time,
They died on 9/11.
Similarly, Afghani victims
Died by American bombing,
Yet were guilty of no crime.
We wish for no one,
In any country,
To experience the grief that we have.”
With this statement, they expressed support
For the Afghani victims.

These grieving families of the American 9/11 victims
Supported the Afghani citizens
Killed by the American government.

Soldiers returning from Afghanistan and Iraq,
Military groups, and gold star families
Also started movements.
From the “United for Peace and Justice” group,
The “ANSWER” (“Act Now to Stop War and End Racism”) coalition
Was organized.
Names of groups listed as part of ANSWER are
“Veterans For Peace”,
“Iraq Veterans Against War”,
“Military Families Speak Out” and
“Gold Star Families for Peace”.

One of the bereaved family members mentioned earlier,
Mr. Shiratori, despite his deep grief, thought
“I want to know how these terrorists
Came to commit such indiscriminate attacks.”
“I want to go there, to try and meet directly
With Afghani people
And hear their words.”
So he left for Afghanistan, where he found
Families of those killed by stray American bombing,
Children crippled by cluster bombs.
In the midst of his own grief, Mr. Shiratori found
The only answer:
“The cycle of hatred and terror
Can only be stopped
By sharing our hearts.”

10 years later, in September of 2011,
The 911 Memorial Museum was built
At the old World Trade Center’s “Ground Zero.”
Mr. Shiratori rushed to attend
The unveiling ceremony
As a bereaved family member.
Both President Obama and
Former President Bush
Attended the ceremony.
Mr. Shiratori held a message card
That he himself wrote in English,
Carrying the sentiment that
“Bombing won’t end terrorism:”

President Bush,
My son was killed by
9. 11 terrorist attacks.
Children in Iraq and
Afghan are still suffered.
What is the Justice
For you?

Using money from his son Atsushi’s estate
And funds from the terrorist victims‘ foundation,
Mr. Shiratori started a foundation
For Afghan reconstruction.

He sent water filtration systems and solar panels.
He gave equipment to local girls’ schools. 
He also bought and set aside
2000 square meters of land
For a memorial park.

This grieving family member
Of a Japanese victim of 9/11
Supported the Afghani victims
Killed by the American government.

           

The message of Michael Moore’s film,
“Fahrenheit 9/11”, is that

Big business loves
The taste of war.
It can sell enormous quantities
Of destructive weapons,
Then profit from subsequent rebuilding.
Yet, in the end, it is the governments who pay
Using funds their citizens pay through taxes.
Destroy…rebuild. Destroy…rebuild.
It is a never-ending cycle.
As long as it’s not nuclear war,
It’s OK.
Big business needs war to continue.
Somewhere, new wars must keep starting.
And so big business profit continues.
For them, no war deaths are meaningless.

 

One Syrian journalist said
Neither 9/11 nor the Middle East problem
Should be made into a religion problem.
The moment it is, everything stops.
We will cease to understand anything.

One Japanese scholar of the Middle East said
“Surprisingly, those who enter ISIS
Know little about Islam.
According to questionnaires
Sent to entry level ISIS soldiers,
None of the soldiers had more
Than a beginner’s knowledge of Islam.
From their answers, we see the reality that
Their lives have been buried in despair.
Simply turning to violence
Would make them into criminals.
So instead they join terror organizations
Like ISIS,
Where they can pretend to be soldiers
And act out their violent rage.

And because the American government
Has raised “terror” from a simple crime
To an act of war,
The perpetrators of terrorism, just like soldiers,
Can become heroes.”

NOTE  – *1
On the FBI home page, Osama Bin Laden is not once mentioned as the ringleader of “simultaneous attempts of terror on America” or “the 9/11 terror attacks.” https://www.fbi.gov/file-repository/stats-services-publications-terror-terror00_01.pdf/view  Page 14-15

 Then President Bush, without any proof, on the same day branded Osama Bin Laden as a criminal. Then, 3 days later the American government declared, “19 Arab men from the international terrorism group Al Qaeda, which is headed by Osama Bin Laden, hijacked 4 private aircraft.
NOTE- **2
16 years have passed since 9/11, and now the Tokyo 2020 Olympics are approaching. Japan has enacted its own version of the USA Patriot Act.
With its stated goal of preventing terrorism, it erodes Japanese citizens’ civil rights and freedoms, and it puts Japan on a government-approved course for moving towards a more monitored society.

 

 

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