11 Relatives speak out against war
by Voices in the Wilderness UK and ARROW
of Kelly and Ryans Visit
Excerpts from Kelly's speech
No. 13 - Six Months on: the victims
Kelly Campbell lost her brother-in-law Craig
Scott Amundson in the Pentagon on September 11th 2001. Together
with other September 11th relatives, she travelled to Afghanistan
in January 2002 on a mission of peace and reconciliation. Kelly
is a key figure in Peaceful Tomorrows, an anti-war network of
September 11th relatives. Their
website is www.peacefultomorrows.org
Kelly visited the UK with Ryan Amundson, Craig's brother, in February
from Kelly Campbell's speech at Friends House, Euston Road, London
21 February 2002
speech at Friends House will be available on tape in the coming
weeks (for a donation) from
ARROW, 162 Holloway Road, London N7 8DQ or 020 7607 2302
On September 11th, my life changed forever when we had a phone
call from Ryan, Craig and Barry (my partner's) mother at 7.15
in the morning, saying, "Turn on your television, there are planes
flying into buildings and they've hit the Pentagon [where Craig
worked as a graphic designer]. And that's when we started thinking
about Craig and was he safe. And of course he wasn't.
One of the hardest days was the day we had a memorial service
for Craig in his home town, a small town in Iowa where he grew
up. On that day we gathered with his friends from elementary school
and high school and friends from college, friends of the family,
to tell Craig stories and to talk about who he was and what an
important person he was to all of us. And as we were preparing
to go to the memorial service we turned on the television and
that's when we learned that our government had started bombing
And for me that was such a difficult day because in the back of
my mind I knew that there were other families who that day was
their September 11th. And that on this day when I really
only wanted to think about Craig's story, in the back of my mind
I was wondering about these other stories and these other families
and what it was going to be like for them.
And as the weeks and months went by, we didn't hear much about
those families. We didn't hear much about civilian casualties
in the war in Afghanistan. And yet we continued to hear our
stories. The stories of our families continued to be highlighted
in the media. We still to this day are getting cards and letters
and gifts from people all over the world. And we have felt the
sympathy and the human connection with other people all over the
world who care about us. But I kept wondering about those Afghan
families and who was caring about them.'
These are some of the family members that we met [in Kabul]. This
little boy here is 6 years old and his name is Fardeen. And he
lives in Kabul about a kilometre away from the Kabul airport.
So when the bombs fell on his neighbourhood, all the neighbours
thought, well, they're trying to bomb the airport but apparently
they've missed. On the day that the bombs fell in his neighbourhood,
this little boy stopped talking. And he also stopped walking.
He has reverted to an infantile state. He has to be carried around.
He's starting to act more like a baby. And this is in a country
where there's virtually no mental health care available.
And these are his next door neighbours, whose house was bombed.
The little girl is 10 years old. Her brother is 9. And these children
didn't lose anyone in their house but they lost eight of their
next door neighbours and half of their house was destroyed. And
these two children, 10 and 9 years old, have also stopped talking.
These are children who haven't talked in months because of what
they've seen. The little girl is drooling all the time, the little
boy is shaking. Their father says they're not sleeping at night,
they're wetting the bed. And again, this is a place where there's
no such thing as getting mental care for these children.'
I just want to tell a quick story about two other children. The
first is about my niece Charlotte, whose father was killed. Charlotte
was barely 2 and a half on September 11th. No one was really sure
she understood much of what was going on. It had been explained
to her but all of her aunts and uncles and grandparents were there
and people kept coming and giving her gifts. So we weren't really
sure how much Charlotte knew what was going on.
One day Charlotte and I went on a little walk on this nature trail
near their house and as we were walking down the trail I asked
her "Charlotte, have you been here before?" And she stopped and
she said, "Yes, Daddy used to take me here." And she looked down
at her feet and she said, "A plane crashed into Daddy's work,
and Daddy couldn't get out." And it was such an awful thing to
hear from a two- year-old - to hear that a two-year-old has a
story like that and it's true.
And then when I went to Afghanistan, I was at the Emergency Hospital
for victims of war and I met an eight-year-old boy who was missing
part of his hand and we asked him why he was there and what had
happened. He told us that he had been playing near his house with
his ten-year-old friend, and that his friend had seen something
yellow and picked it up and he had shouted "No! Don't touch it!"
And he watched his friend explode and die. And he's in the hospital
missing part of his hand.
And it is just so horrible that we live in a world where children
have these stories. Where children have seen these things happen.
And it made me think about how I'm going to explain all these
this to Charlotte some day, and what action has our Government
taken to respond to Craig's murder. As far as I can tell, the
main action that they've taken is to kill more innocent people
and to give more children horrible stories to tell.'
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