By Kathy Hadizadeh
September 11th 2003 came by and passed. Reza Baluchi, the Iranian runner for peace from Los Angeles to NY* finally reached the NY right on the day. However we did not see much coverage of his presence and his indeed humanitarian action in the general media.
Originally Reza had the intention of arriving at NY on Sep.11 after having run 3700 miles to participate in the Sep. 11th ceremony at the World Trade Center site by offering a bouquet of flowers to the family members of the victims. This was the ultimate of his trip to end his message of Peace across the United States.
Following the news on Reza, the last I heard was that he and David, his one person support team, have ended up in Battery Park, instead of the World Trade Center, the destination he had been planning for exactly two years. I could not find a clue in the NYTimes report of that day, a feature story on Reza and his adventures during the past 7 years.
On Sep.11th, I heard Reza talk on the Radio KIRN-670 AM. He could barely speak as he was crying from excitement. God! This man is pure heart. He was thanking every one for his own great cause. He was grateful to each individual who supported him for being there to help him accomplish what he had always dreamed of.
He was surrounded by many Iranians that day and throughout the whole journey across the States. Reza has kind of an extraterrestrial sense of purity and simplicity. This is an unbeatable charm in this sophisticated time at human history. Everybody was excited about what Reza was doing.
David said in an interview: “His run is letting people of Middle Eastern descent be proud once again; it’s helping them show their faces again in this country. After Sept. 11th, Iranians in America couldn’t celebrate their heritage; they had to keep a low profile. Reza lets them come out and be proud again. He’s an inspiration to all of us. That pride is also translating into support, as Iranian-Americans and folks from all walks of life assist the run with donations of food and funds.”
Iranian people anywhere accepted him with open arms. None of them had ever met Reza before. But knowing that he has this good intention in his heart and that he is a compatriot, they would all greet him like a family member, with big hugs, flowers and dinner invitations. They all wish that world could see more of Reza examples.
Yet, I did not know the reason why Reza had chosen to change his destination. A man as determined as him who has gone through 12 pairs of sneakers and run about 3,700 miles, all in the name of peace to finish his journey in New York City on Thursday, the second anniversary of the Sept. 11th attacks, why should he change his plan all of a sudden? So, I had this question in my mind pondering and waiting for Reza to come to Los Angeles. His plan was to return to LA at the end of his Peace mission.
It was two days ago that while surfing the web, I came across the weblog of a truly loyal fan of Reza and his peace run: James Wagner. James had followed Reza for quite some time through the exchange of e-mail with Reza’s companion, David.
Going through James daily notes on Reza, I could put together parts of the puzzle. What I had not found out through the mass media was now being revealed to me. James had published the exact e-mail from David on his weblog:
“On Thursday, Sep. 11th we will begin on the Jersey side of the bridge at 8:00 am. We’d like to cross the bridge and head down Broadway all the way to Ground Zero.
Access permitting Reza would like to get as close to the Ground Zero site as possible. We had requested from Mayor Bloomberg’s office that Reza be allowed to run into the ceremony, present a bouquet of flowers, pay his respects and then run out but were told that while Reza’s efforts were certainly commendable, surely we could see that this wouldn’t be appropriate at a ceremony like this.
How many Middle Eastern people died that day?
Reza will have a private moment at Ground Zero and then run to Battery Park where there will be a reception.
I am happy that Reza accomplished his mission and that he brought a sense of solidarity among Iranians, Americans, and almost anybody he met in his mission. But I honestly wish that Reza could have contributed his bouquet of flowers on Sep.11th. It is crucial that people of this nation know that any hostile activity in this world is not necessarily from the people of so called “Axis of Evil” countries. People anywhere are kind, like Peace and suffer from terrorism brutalities. It is the power beyond nations that makes decisions, with invisible hands that shake the world, sits there and watches the shake.