Kent, CT - Father of 9/11 Victim Fights to Have 'Murdered by Muslim Terrorists' Inscribed on Son's Monument
Kent, CT - Peter Gadiel, the 9/11 victim’s father, has insisted that the stone state that his son was “murdered by Muslim terrorists,” a phrase that town officials say has no place on a monument that would be paid for by municipal funds and be placed on the town hall property.
Working in North Tower James Gadiel was working as an assistant trader at Cantor Fitzgerald on the 103rd floor of the North Tower when the World Trade Center was attacked with passenger jets that had been taken over by terrorists. He was 23.
“He was a lovely young man who deserves to be honored,” said First Selectman Ruth Epstein, “but Peter is still adamant that he wants that wording. We do not feel that is appropriate, and I have not heard from him since.”
Catherine Posselt Bachrach appeared at the Board of Selectmen meeting to present a letter that supports the town’s position. She said she had found the “impasse to be extremely painful.”
“I am adamantly opposed to any reference to ‘Muslim’ terrorists and cite personal experiences to support that opposition,” she wrote.
Ms. Bachrach went on to recount her time as an English teacher in remote regions of Turkey, where she was treated everywhere with “respect and civility.” “Hospitality and the protection of strangers are basic tenets of Islam and I was the beneficiary, even when those I encountered had never met an American. To think that one of my former students, my teaching colleagues or others would see a reference in my home town to ‘Muslim’ terrorists is painful.”
She said her family had felt the sting of such prejudice when she was a child. Her family left Germany in 1930, she said, and settled in Kent in 1941. “Shortly after my sister entered Kent Center School during World War II she came home and told my parents that she had been called ‘a Nazi’ by fellow students. My father, who preached and lived tolerance and civility, marched into KCS and informed [the principal] that this type of bullying was unacceptable. To his eternal credit, Mr. Perkins swiftly put a stop to the bullying, reinforcing the values that we all celebrate in our small town.”
She said that for young Muslim students in today’s hometown school to see a plaque referring to their religion in a negative way would be “unthinkable.”
“I appeal to you all to affirm Kent’s long history of tolerance and ability to welcome and provide a home for citizens of all backgrounds and religions.”
Mrs. Epstein said she has heard some comments from residents who feel it is inappropriate to have any memorial at all. “I agreed to it, though,” she said. “I feel it was such a catastrophic episode for the United States, and we lost one of our own, that it is a good idea to memorialize James. But we could not condone that wording for anything on public land.”
But for Gadiel, it’s an important message that he insists be present on any tribute to his son.
“Muslims have to acknowledge that it was their co-religionists who committed this act in their name,” he said. “I am offended that unlike so many others, they refuse to acknowledge that it was their people who did this.”
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