Sept 11. A different memory.

by Karen Topakian

As we approach the 10th anniversary of September 11, 2001. And the commemorations that will ensue. I’d like to offer a slightly different remembrance.

Remembrances of what happened after September 11.

On October 7 to be exact. The day the US first bombed Afghanistan. An act of preemptive self-defense. Unlawful under international law.

We all remember the horror and the specter of the collapsing buildings. The suicidal jumps. The smoke and flames that overwhelmed a city and a country. The outcry of support from our friends and neighbors around the world. The goodwill that flowed to our shores.

I too remember all of that.

Along with the quick rush of patriotism that engulfed a generation of young people to enlist and fight the good fight. That 10 years later, has wrought very little in the way of peace and security for the people of Afghanistan and Iraq.

What I want to remember today however are the acts of bravery that I saw in my colleagues and friends who stood on Lombard and Broderick Streets. Carrying signs calling for an end to the bombing of Afghanistan. When it wasn’t popular. And on the corner of Van Ness and Market with me. Week after week. Calling for justice not more violence.

Melanie Okamoto who housed our signs in the trunk of her car. Carol Cantwell and Rachel Lanzerotti who helped organize the hour-long vigils. And to the many others who joined us.

As we endured the verbal epithets and taunting we received for opposing the bombing. Also I want to remember the kindness performed by those too afraid for their jobs to stand with us.

As my pal Catherine Powell said, “It’s easy being a vegetarian between meals.” Just as it’s easy to oppose war in peacetime. Saying no to more violence. After an attack isn’t easy. But it’s essential.


  1. So now, do I have the courage to “like” your post? No. But I do.

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