Victim's Mother Expresses Forgiveness 10 Years After
September 14, 2011
Many Americans felt the need to
retaliate after the terrorist attacks on the United States in 2001. And
ever since then, U.S. forces have waged a world-wide war against the
Islamic extremists who claimed responsibility.
But not all Americans seek retribution to ease their pain. Phyllis
Rodriguez is one mother who expresses forgiveness, not hate, toward
those who killed her son 10 years ago on September 11.
Phyllis Rodriguez's son Greg died in the terrorist attacks on the World
Trade Center. He was a computer specialist working on the 103rd floor of
the north tower. She recalls how she found out that something terrible
had happened that Tuesday morning.
"On our answering machine was a message from Greg, our son, that said,
'There's been a terrible accident at the World Trade Center. I'm OK,
call Elizabeth,' our daughter-in-law."
But Greg Rodriguez was not OK and neither were nearly 3,000 others.
"I was just hoping, hoping that he had survived, and not allowing myself
to admit the worst," recalled Rodriguez.
That came soon enough when Greg Rodriguez was declared dead. And with it
came his parents' conscious decision to make a difference.
"The main thing that we realized very early the morning of the 12th is
that our government given its history, was going to do something
military and violent in retaliation in the name of our son and that that
wasn't going to do any good and we didn't support it."
Phyllis Rodriguez and her husband Orlando released an open letter to
then President George W. Bush.
"It ended up being circulated around the country and around the world.
It was part of the way that helped us cope with the loss," Rodriguez
The couple wanted no part of revenge. They opposed the death penalty for
the man who became known as the 20th highjacker, Zacarias Moussaoui.
Phyllis befriended Zacarias' mother, Aicha el-Wafi.
"I felt that this woman has to be very, very courageous because her son
is the most hated person probably at the moment and here she was
standing up for her son," said Rodriguez. "We realized what we had in
common was our common humanity. We were human beings. It is a very
valuable part of my life and my healing."
Rodriguez says she is disappointed by the way the U.S. government has
used the war on terror in her son's name.
feel terrible sorrow at all the losses, all the bereft families. We had
the whole world in sympathy with us. We could've been leaders and
working for world peace and peace in the Middle East. And what did we
do? We blew it," Rodriguez added.
Phyllis Rodriguez says she copes with the loss of her only son by
opposing war and participating in human rights and forgiveness projects.
"I don't think it happened for a reason, but it did happen and I feel
fortunate that I had the inner resources to respond in the way that I
did," Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez says she is at peace knowing she will never see her son again,
but is not at peace with the state of the world. That is why, she says,
she is trying to make a difference.