It was so exciting! I had no idea that I would be called out... Susan Retik emailed me today after President Obama made special mention of her at a White House ceremony during which she was awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal for her work with Afghan widows. It's the second highest honor that can be bestowed on an American citizen.
"Susan Retik’s husband was killed when his plane was flown into the World Trade Center on September 11th. And nobody would have blamed Susan if she had turned inward with grief or with anger," President Obama said. "But that isn’t who she is. So instead, she and another widow started Beyond the 11th, and this is a group that empowers Afghan widows affected by war and terrorism. And Susan says,'These women are not our enemy.'"
The pride at Principle Pictures is twofold. We are ecstatic that Susan is being recognized for her commitment to building a lasting peace in Afghanistan. She deserves it! And we're reminded of our own role in helping to highlight the power of the individual as someone who saw BEYOND BELIEF nominated Susan for the award.
Today's White House ceremony kicks off a year-long, high-visibility 10th Anniversary of 9/11 campaign that is being launched by Susan’s foundation, Beyond the 11th, and us - Principle Pictures, producers of the BEYOND BELIEF documentary in which Susan’s story is featured. We have a shared mission: to use the power of media to inspire activism and education and encourage others to fulfill the President’s call to service.
At this important moment in America’s history, there is a real opportunity to help reshape the conversation about September 11th and the War on Terror, and do what we can to help eliminate the threat of terrorism. We hope you'll join our year-long campaign that's aimed at sparking meaningful public dialogue and citizen activism around peace in Afghanistan.
Congratulations, Susan! You continue to inspire us and so many others.