Missoula’s moment of silence 

On the two-year anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, the Jeannette Rankin Peace Center organized a discussion group at 11 a.m., and again at 5:30 p.m., to share thoughts and feelings, and almost no one showed up. Instead, the group consisted of regular Peace Center activists and workers, as well as a representative from the Women in Black. The gathering began with a video screening of a short film titled 9/11: Another World is Possible.

Janet Finn, a UM professor of social work, says, “My sense is that there are deep and complex feelings that we hold about the events of Sept. 11, and that we need a place to come together in a reflective way to listen, support and remember—and to be able to do that in a way that affirms community.”

The Peace Center forum provided such an opportunity, but seemingly few Missoulians felt like talking.

One who did was Nydia Vargas, who expressed extreme disappointment with U.S. policies after Sept. 11, 2001, both internationally and domestically—policies that Vargas feels do not represent the will of the American people.

“When my family came here, we came because this was the country of liberty, of freedom, of freedom of speech, of democracy, you know? And two years later it’s like, un unh. This is totally the opposite.”

“Missed opportunities” was a phrase that popped-up several times throughout the discussion. The group agreed that the United States could have found a silver lining in the tragedy of Sept. 11 through an attempt at greater understanding of why other peoples harbor resentment—an effort that the six women present believe would have been more fruitful and lasting than the waging of war.

Vargas questions the near-silence of the community just two years after one of the most devastating events in U.S. history.

“Where are the people?” she asks. “Are they just keeping it to themselves?”

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