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Further Reflections on the SOA

December 2, 2008

Stephen already wrote a great entry about our trip to the SOA protest, but I wanted a chance to share a few of my thoughts, as well.

As you probably guessed, this picture was taken last week at the gates of Ft. Benning. The four women who are memorialized in this picture are Ita Ford, Maura Clarke, Jean Donovan, and Dorothy Kazel, four U.S. churchwomen who were killed by SOA graduates in El Salvador. Today is the 28th anniversary of their death. Dorothy Kazel was a member of the Ursuline Sisters of Cleveland and her order has a memorial to her on their website. It gives a lot more information about her story, if you are interested.

It’s important to say that I think Dorothy, Ita, Maura and Jean would want us to remember that 28 years ago they joined the ranks of thousands of innocents who died in the civil war in El Salvador, many of whom still remain unknown but to God. Hopefully, by hearing their stories and seeing their faces we will become better able to mourn the names and faces and stories of the victims that we do not know.

Now, I’ll leave you with something that I wrote on my way home. I hope all of our Quaker readers will be understanding of the somewhat un-Quaker terminology.

Thoughts at the Gates of Ft Benning

We think of sacred places
(those of us who care to think of them)
As devoid of any history
outside the miraculous

A spring in Lourdes
A river in Varanasi

It feels crude to speak of:

A pilgrimage to Auschwitz
A military gate turned shrine

But even Mexico was under occupation
When a mother first gave her gift of roses

And Mary walked to a tomb in Calvary
Expecting only to see death

So if the walls of Jericho were brought down by faith
Maybe these gates, too
Will tremble with our prayers

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