Some thoughts on the slogan of


On Thursday, September 13, two days after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, a fellow musician sent an e-mail to me and some other colleagues: “I know you’re seeing lots of things about displaying flags and wearing a certain color, etc. But I hope you’ll participate in this moment tomorrow night that we put our energy together and send thoughts out into the universe. I’m assuming the time is 7 p.m. EST, but feel free to interpret this as you wish. Hope yours are safe and well.” She attached the following announcement which, I later realized, had gone out to e-mail accounts across the country:

Subject:    Candle Lighting

Friday Night at 7:00 p.m. step out your door, stop your car, or step out of your establishment and light a candle. We will show the world that Americans are strong and united together against terrorism. Please pass this to everyone on your e-mail list. We need to reach everyone across the United States quickly.


I wrote back, saying I disagreed with “the message.” As an explanation I appended a press release by members of The War Resisters League. Among other things it stated:

“The policies of militarism pursued by the United States have resulted in millions of deaths, from the historic tragedy of the Indochina war, through the funding of death squads in Central America and Colombia, to the sanctions and air strikes against Iraq. . . Let us seek an end of the militarism that has characterized this nation for decades.”