CALIFORNIA: A group of high school students called Youth for Hope organized a massive luminary lighting on New Year s Eve in Davis, California. The event was supported by peacemakers of all ages and succeeded in sending a powerful message for peace. The light from approximately 10,000 luminaries represented both the number of people killed since September 11, 2001 and a message of hope.
The first 3,000 candles represented causalities on 9/11 and in combat following 9/11.
For Iraqi civilians, each candle represented 65 people killed for the estimated 650,000 people killed in Iraq – a figure reached by the Lancet Medical Journal.
While the light symbolized the horrific loss of life, it also represented the brighter peaceful future that is possible. The students observed this when they said knowledge is light, light brings us wisdom, and light brings us hope. Sofia Cortopassi, Julia Cortopassi, Elisa Espinoza, Jessica Weidenfeld and other Davis High School students were inspired to take action after viewing the movie “The Ground Truth and proceeded to form “Youth for Hope .
The students summed up a powerful solution when they observed that peace is best accomplished through education and honest communication.
“The Ground Truth was first screened for filmgoers at the 2006 Sundance and Nantucket Film Festivals and immediately struck a chord with the public as it focused on the impact of the Iraq war on Americans.
Directed by Patricia Foulkrod, the film brought the harsh reality of the lives and events surrounding six American servicemen and women before, during, and after their tours in Iraq.