Multifaith Peace Picnic & Prayer Service
to Commemorate 9/11 Anniversary
By Abdus Sattar Ghazali
American Muslim Voice Foundation, Dave Cortese President, Board of Supervisors and Santa Clara County Multifaith Voices for Peace & Justice, sponsored Multifaith Peace Picnic and Prayer Service on September 11, 2017 to remember 9/1.
The event, held outside the Palo Alto City Hall, was attended by about 250 people from all walks of life, despite unexpected thunder and rain.
The event was co-sponsored by more than 20 organizations and individuals, and included multifaith prayers for peace and a special program by the American Muslim Voice.
The highlight of the program was a personal heartwarming story byAntonio Aversano, the son of Louis F. Aversano, Jr., who was killed at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11th, 2001.
Feeling “broken open” by that life-changing experience, Antonio found hope and inspiration in joining September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, deeply resonating with their simple mission of “turning our grief into actions for peace.”
Color guard and flag posting by Troop 499 of Silicone Valley Monterey Bay Council was another feature of the program. Troop 499 serves their local community by serving food at their house of worship as well as at local charities.
Samina Sundas, founder of the American Muslim Voice Foundation, was invited to honor the victims of 9/11, their families and first responders byobserving a moment of silence. She said 16 years ago we were struck by one of the worst tragedies as a nation but immediately after that we were struck by another tragedy that created the culture of despair, division, fear and violence. She shared American Muslim Voice Foundation's vision of replacing that with a culture of hope, inclusion and peace. AMV Foundation is committed to peace and community building by emphasizing that the ability to make our country safe, peaceful and harmonious lies in our hands.
The multifaith prayers began with gathering songs led by Chris Lundin from Multifaith Voices for Peace & Justice (MVPJ) and the Mitzvah Singers from Congregation Etz Chayim.
It was followed by blowing of Shofar by Steve Rabin, Congregation Kol Emeth, Palo Alto and Azan (call for prayers) by Abdullah Navaid a 7th Grade student from Palo Alto.
Litany Prayer of Lament was read by Farukh Basrai, Anjuman-e-Jamali and and Rev Mark Arevalo, Spark Church, Palo Alto.
Baha’i Prayer for Unity & Peace was offered in Persian and English by Mahrou Derakshani from San Jose and Chris French from Woodside.
Buddhist Loving Kindness Meditation was sung by Rev Fa Jun, Buddhist/Interfaith Minister, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Los Gatos.
Hindu Prayer for Peace was offered by Sathya Sai International Organization, Region 7 Young Adults. They were singing “May all the beings in all the worlds be happy.”
Rev Annanda Barclay, First Presbyterian Church, Palo Alto, also spoke on peace and fraternity.
Beth Am Children’s Choir was led by Cantor Jaime Shpall Hinei and Steven Wynbrant.
Farha Andrabi Navaid, President, MVPA Musalla (daily worship and community center for Muslims of Palo Alto and adjoining areas), spoke about peace and justice in Islam.
At the conclusion of the multifaith prayers, Rev. Frannie Hall Kieschnick, Episcopal Priest, called the audience to form a Candlelight Circle of Peace.
Rev. Frannie Hall Kieschnick also read a peace song by Maya Angelou:
"We, Angels and Mortal's, Believers and Non-Believers,
Look heavenward and speak the word aloud.
Peace. We look at our world and speak the word aloud.
Peace. We look at each other, then into ourselves
And we say without shyness or apology or hesitation."
The program concluded with a candlelight vigil honoring the victims of 9/11, their families and first responders.
Before the Multifatih Prayers, the American Muslim Voice (AMV), the main spirit behind the event, presented a program which began with the recitation of the Holy Qur’an by Meher Haider, a sixth grader from Saratoga.
Color guard and flag-posting ceremony
Munira Shamim, a graduate of Columbia University and a 2016 graduate from Santa Clara Law School, was the emcee of the program which included color guard and flag-posting ceremony by Troop 499 of Silicon Valley Monterey Bay Council. Troop 499 serves their local community by serving food at their house of worship as well as at local charities.
Another highlight of the program was a personal heartwarming story byAntonio Aversano, the son of Louis F. Aversano, Jr., who was killed at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11th, 2001. Aversano's story moved the audience.
Little Naiel Chaudry, 8, from Los Alto read a poem about Unity.
Summer Rashid, a six-year-old resident of San Jose, read a poem by Bruno Mars, Count on me.
Dr Aifra Ahmed, a well-known civil activist, offered the vote of thanks. She particularly thanked all the sponsors and co‐sponsors for sharing AMV's vision of a beloved, harmonious and peaceful world.