Founding member of September 11th Families For Peaceful Tomorrows, speaks at Maryville College March 10

March 7, 2003

Rita Lasar, a speaker and founding member of September 11th Families For Peaceful Tomorrows, will speak to interested Maryville College students, faculty and staff members in forums scheduled for 9 and 10 a.m., March 10, in Lawson Auditorium of Fayerweather Hall.

Her talk, which is also open to the public and free of charge, is entitled “Our Grief is Not a Call for War.”

Peaceful Tomorrows is an advocacy organization founded by family members of Sept. 11 victims who have united to turn their grief into action for peace.

Lasar lost a brother, Abe Zelmanowitz, when terrorists flew a plane into the first World Trades tower on Sept. 11, 2001. Her brother waited for help with a quadriplegic co-worker, but perished before help could arrive. His bravery was cited during a speech by President George W. Bush at the National Cathedral on Sept. 14, 2001.

“ [During that event] it became apparent to me that my country was going to use my brother’s death to justify the deaths of countless innocent people in Afghanistan,” she said. “I was devastated by this realization.”

Along with families of victims from attacks on the Pentagon and on flight 93, Lasar went to Afghanistan in January 2002. There, she said she saw the effects of the recent U.S. bombing campaigns – and she said, she met Afghans who reached out to her and other Americans with kindness.

“ I came home dedicated to helping establish an Afghan victims fund and equally important advocating that we as a nation and as a world find resolutions to conflict through international systems, through the United Nations and the world court in cooperation with the nations with which we share the world,” she said. “Peaceful Tomorrows for me is the home from which to do this.”

Numerous local organizations, churches and individuals are sponsoring Lasar’s visit to East Tennessee, and all proceeds beyond expenses will go to the Peaceful Tomorrows organization.

Further information about the organization can be found at www.peacefultomorrows.org.


Maryville College is ideally situated in Maryville, Tenn., between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Knoxville, the state's third largest city. Founded in 1819, it is the 12th oldest institution of higher learning in the South and maintains an affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Known for offering its students a rigorous and highly personal experience that includes an undergraduate research requirement, Maryville College is a nationally ranked institution of higher learning that successfully joins the liberal arts and professional preparation. Total enrollment for the fall 2014 semester is 1,213.