an incredibly good person. I am very saddened by her murder on
Sunday, March 16, 2003. She was run over by an Israeli military
bulldozer as she was protesting the destruction of Palestinian
homes in Rafah in the Gaza Strip. Rachel, who was 23, grew up
in Olympia, Washington. I met her when she was a student in the
Options Program at Lincoln elementary school in 1989. She was
a friend of my son and played on the same YMCA basketball team
as my daughter. Rachel and I talked a lot the last two years and
marched together at various demonstrations. Rachel was a caring
and gentle person who loved life and was outraged by oppression
wherever it took place and had become very active working for
social justice and peace.
Rachel was a very modest, courageous, and responsible person who
was the heart and soul of the Olympia Movement for Justice and
Peace, a group she had originally begun working with as part of
her study in the Local Knowledge Program taught by Anne Fischel
and Lin Nelson at Evergreen State College. Rachel was active in
opposing the U.S. “war against terror” and U.S. militarism.
One project she worked on was a September 11, 2002 day of remembrance,
held at Percival Landing in downtown Olympia, for the people killed
at the World Trade Center and for the people killed by the U.S.
military in Afghanistan. She got many elementary school kids and
classes to participate. So it was fitting that the vigil on Sunday,
March 16 against the war in Iraq, and to honor and mourn Rachel,
was at Percival Landing. Close to 1,000 people attended.
Rachel was a reflective person who constantly thought about how
to link together various groups working for justice, e.g., the
labor movement and the peace movement. She volunteered at Evergreen
State College Labor Education and Research Center and played a
major role in organizing a conference dealing with networking
and strategies for justice and peace last spring. Another major
concern of hers was to involve the Olympia community in anti-war
and economic and social justice issues. Besides going to Evergreen
State College, Rachel also worked at BHR, a local mental health
clinic, and was active in her union, 1199, a part of the Service
Employees International Union.
Justice for the Palestinian people was one of many issues Rachel
felt deeply about. She opposed the Israeli occupation and supported
a Palestinian state. Rachel had studied Arabic at Evergreen and
decided to go to the Gaza strip in occupied Palestine for the
winter quarter. She felt it was important to have international
observers there as Israeli aggression was likely to increase when
the U.S. invaded Iraq, a war she strongly opposed.
Rachel was aware of the dangers and risks of going to Gaza. She
left Olympia on January 18, 2003 to work for human rights
in solidarity with the Palestinian people. She volunteered with
the International Solidarity Movement, people from around the
world who have been witnesses to Israeli attacks on Palestinians
in the West Bank and Gaza and had organized non-violent protests
against the Israeli occupation. Rachel planned to return to Evergreen
State College to finish her studies.
Rachel will not be coming back to Olympia, but please take a moment
to reflect on her life and carry on her legacy by doing a little
more to oppose the U.S. war against Iraq, support a Palestinian
state, and further justice, equality, and peace around the world.
Rachel Corrie was an ordinary and an extraordinary person.