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A Celebration of Solidarity

Anil Saigal

On Sunday Sep. 15, 2002 people affiliated with different Indian American organizations gathered together at Mechanics Hall, Worcester in a memorial service for the victims of Sep. 11. Teresa Mathai of Arlington, an Indian-American who lost her husband in the terrible attacks on the twin towers and Sally White of North Attleboro, who lost her daughter, attended the event. ``In the aftermath, it was clear what a wonderful community we have,'' said Teresa. Both Sally T. White and Ms Mathai clearly brought out the message, ``I am proud to be an American."

The event featured speakers, poetry reading and dances. Dr. Sahdev Passey, President of the Indo-American Solidarity Day Foundation gave the inaugural address. ”Today and here on we must celebrate the lives of those who died that day. We must celebrate the happiness and joy they brought to the lives of their loved ones,” said Dr. Passey. Ranjani Saigal was the master of ceremonies for the event. “ Solidarity – a word with profound impact is not a slogan of recent origin but is imprinted in the minds of all the citizens of this great land. For us who have made this our home this is our motherland legally and emotionally. We Indian-Americans solemnly pledge to support our country’s effort to fight the evil forces of terrorism,” she said.

The event also solicited contributions to the Massachusetts 9-11 Fund, which Teresa Mathai had started with the help of Boston lawyer Roderick MacLeish Jr. and other partners of his law firm. ``In Massachusetts we needed an umbrella organization to look after the needs of those affected in Massachussets,'' she said. ``We needed to look after our own. This affected 177 families, 80 percent of which lost their wage earners. It would be a place for families to go and tell us what their needs are. It's nice to have a collective voice.''

The cultural part of the evening included two dances conducted under the direction of Ranjani Saigal. “Pushpanjali” dedicated to Mother Earth was performed by Amrita Saigal and Abha Verma. The other item was a creation that presented a unique choreography to a fusion of “America the Beautiful” and Rehman’s "Vande Mataram – Maa Tujhe Salaam”. This powerful choreography performed by the members of Indian Students Association at Tufts University (ISAT) brought a sense of pride for “Mother America.”

Several local senators and congressmen attended the event. U.S. Rep. James P. McGovern, D-Worcester, spoke for need to not focus on terrorism in isolation but to look at the root cause of the problem all around the world. He also cited the contributions of Indian-Americans in business, science, medicine and education. ``Our society is a richer place because of your contributions. In the aftermath of that tragedy we have seen intolerance against people of your community and of Middle Eastern descent. This community as a whole rallied against that intolerance. We need to make the world a less intolerant place. We need to address poverty, hunger and human rights.''

State Sen. Guy W. Glodis, D-Auburn, cited Indian contributions towards science, technology and entrepreneurship and urged those present to become more involved in the political process. ``You are a proud and distinguished people,'' he said. ``I would challenge you to leave your mark politically. There are no statewide or locally elected Indians. It should not and cannot be dictated by one’s ethnic background. Today is a time to remember, but also to celebrate. Values such as freedom, liberty and democracy are shared. India is the largest democracy on the face of the planet,” said Senator Glodis.

Dr Niranjan Dudani and Dr. Onaly Kapasi read poems written in the aftermath of the tragedy. A letter sent to the Indian community by President George Bush was read out by Mrs Ragini Seth, Secretary of the Indian American foundation. She was also responsible for the tasteful decorations and settings that brought the right ambience for the event. Dr. Janine Saldana, former President of the Indian American forum for Political Education described the event in a nutshell with these words “The memorial service was very touching. It hit all the notes of remembrance, sorrow, celebration and above all, of unity with America.”

Oh Sweet Twin Towers from your fire let rise the Phoenix of love
Love that knows not color
For what color is the pain we feel?
Is it White? Is it Black? Or is it Brown?

Wrath and anger only begets more anger
And wanton killing only adds more numbers to those already dead
Is it not love that triumps over all evil?
And is it not love that begets love?

Sadly, we lost our brothers and sisters that day
We lost a father, a child and our only love
Did we not lose much , not to learn to build our future with bricks of love?
Did we not learn to rebuild with the mortar of caring and sharing?

What Color is our pain?
Is it White or is it Black or is it Brown?
If truly our pain knows not color, whay target those with color?
Why then burn their shop, their house, or their place of worship?

Throw not bricks of hate into their homes
Hate them not for the color of their skin
They are as much Americans, just like the rest of us
And their pain is no less, as in that rubble lie their sons and daughters

What color is our pain?
Is it White or is it Black or is it Brown?
Just as our pain knows not color
Let our love also be color blind.

Onaly Kapasi, MD Orthopaedic Surgery

Niranjan Dudani

Among Flight Ninetythree passengers,
Were common folk, business travelers,
Unmindly of a certain death,
They fought like tigers,
To foil the aim of armed killers,
Forcing the plane into wilderness,
Crashing away from city centers,
Salute these common heroes -

A very compassionate Chaplain,
Who learned to pray with a fireman,
Lending solace, last rites to a dying man,
Disregarding the falling heavy slab,
That buried them both in eternal clasp,
Salute the undying devotion -

The loaded planes like missiles exploded,
Balls of flame burst and steel crumpled,
Tall twin towers violently imploded,
Yet police 'n firemen ceaselessly worked,
Oblivious to fate that menacingly loomed,
Bravo the police fire men 'n women -

Bravely huddled holding hands together,
As tons of concrete came crushing asunder,
Like Hercules holding the world on shoulders,
Mounts of debris fallin' from tottering towers,
Behold courage like Sphinx risen from ashes -

Youthful victims of many nationality,
Dreamers of happier life 'n prosperity,
Far from homes in toiling sincerity,
Innocents sacrificed to viscious bestiality,
In silence we remember -

These crimes against decency and liberty,
By fanatic perpetrators, preachers of enemity,
Hatred in their hearts for all humanity,
Religious sermonizers of evil mentality,
Let justice prevail -

(Dr Niranjan Dudani is a practicing allergist and a leading member of the Indian American community in New England. Dr Dudani urges all Indian Americans to cherish, in their hearts, the spirit of the American Flag and all that it stands for.)

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Ms Teresa Mathai

Ms. Sally T. White

Students of ISAT

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