Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Taking Peace Personally. (Colleen Kelly: In Person)

Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Taking Peace Personally. (Colleen Kelly: In Person)

Article excerpt

PACIFISTS ARE NOT POPULAR PEOPLE THESE DAYS. Critics are quick to counter, "How would they feel if they had lost someone on September 11?" Colleen Kelly knows exactly how it feels because her only brother died in the World Trade Center. But she believes the best way to honor her brother's memory is to work for peace.

"Doing this work is very healing for me. It helps me make sense of the horrific things that have happened," says Kelly, a 40-year-old nurse practitioner and mother of three who is among the founders of September Eleventh Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, which advocates a nonviolent response to the tragedy that took the lives of their loved ones.

Kelly remembers September 11 as one of those beautiful, crisp fall days initially memorable because, for the first time, her daughter didn't cry when dropped off at kindergarten. When a colleague told Kelly that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center, she immediately thought of her 30-year-old brother who worked in the e-trade division of Bloomberg Financial Services, on 59th Street and Park Avenue. But she reassured herself and nervous relatives who began calling from around the country. "I told them that Billy was fine, that he was miles away."

Then she learned from her brother's girlfriend that he had attended a breakfast meeting at the Windows on the World restaurant atop one of the towers that morning. By then, both towers had crumbled, but Kelly still held out hope. "Everyone who knew someone in the building was hoping they got out," she remembers.

Later that evening, Kelly finally went into Manhattan to look for her brother. That's when she had to admit that he hadn't made it out alive. "It was like a ghost town," she recalls. "There was nobody there. At the hospitals, staff were waiting outside but there were no patients."

At a memorial service at St. Francis Church in Long Beach Island, New Jersey, William Kelly Jr. was remembered by more than 1,500 mourners as a surfer, chef, duck hunter, and financial wizard. Above all, he was remembered for his kindness.

"If I could do anything to have my brother back, I would," Kelly says, admitting that she has felt tremendously angry, though not vengeful, since his death.

"Family and faith are the only things that get you through something like this. Without faith, how do you deal with this tremendous evil? …

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