By Jessica Easthope
Over the last 20 years, Colleen Kelly has made it her mission to get justice.
“I can’t get to the other side until people have been held accountable for everything that’s happened since then, not just the people who conspired to murder three thousand people but everything that’s happened,” said Colleen.
Her little brother, Bill, was at Windows on the World on September 11, 2001. In the months that followed her horrific loss, Colleen found her grief mirrored in so many others – people who also lost someone and wanted the same thing she did.
“On a walk for healing and peace we met and became the best friends you never wanted to know,” Colleen said.
Together they started Peaceful Tomorrows – an organization seeking nonviolence in the pursuit of justice for their loved ones.
“Our mission was to really think hard about ways to respond that would not continue cycles of violence, ways to bring them to account that wouldn’t harm others,” she said.
Peaceful Tomorrows sent 9/11 families to Afghanistan to meet with people there who lost family members during al-Qaeda’s terror campaign. But Colleen can’t help but remember the human loss she often felt was beyond her control.
2,977 people died in the terror attacks on 9/11. The war in Afghanistan claimed the lives of 2,400 U.S. service members and 50,000 Afghan civilians. 30,177 Global War on Terror veterans have died by suicide, and just hours before it was declared over an attack killed 13 service members and at least 90 Afghans.
“This could have been different, there doesn’t have to be a militaristic response all the time and I know that sounds really naive and certainly 20 years ago it sounded incredibly naive, but it’s not, it didn’t work,” Colleen said.
Throughout her work, Colleen has traveled to Guantanamo Bay, where five men have been charged for their involvement in the 9/11 terror attacks. She wants to see Guantanamo closed.
“I have this quote on my refrigerator that says “Justice will not come until those who are not injured are just as indignant as those who are,” she said.
Colleen stands firm in that viable nonviolent alternatives exist.
“I think that God wants a just world,” she said. “And that God’s not going to do this for us but He gives us the opportunity all the time to work toward justice.”
If you want to donate to Peaceful Tomorrows or become a member, you can visit peacefultomorrows.org