I was in Jerusalem in May 2008 and came across the following sign:
It is a sign that would have struck me under normal circumstances, as every version of the name “Jerusalem” means “city of peace;” a reality which seems to incessantly elude its inhabitants. However, when I saw the sign I immediately knew I had seen it before. A picture of this sign had been taken, printed, and taped to the front of Dr. Goodman’s desk along with other pictures from his travels and his life shared with those around him. I had seen the sign countless times before I ever saw it in person.
The irony of the sign coupled with the heartfelt plea was not lost on Dr. Goodman; it would not be lost on me. Today, however, as our country remembers the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 I am struck by the calls for renewed commitment to the War on Terror, by calls for more intense nationalism, and by the anger that many still feel toward an all-too-often imaginary enemy.
We as a country have chosen to actively remember, a truly sacred act, but in our remembering we have also chosen to forget. We forget how few still bear the burden of so many, we forget the civilians in other countries that have died needlessly and the families that have been torn apart because of our wars, we forget that violence only begets violence.
Today, I do not intend to condemn anyone, but to call us to celebrate the beauty of our shared humanity and to make a simple plea: on this day that we remember, let us not renew our commitment to war, but rather to peace.