September 9, 2011 / 7:40 PM / 9 years ago

September 11 widow imagines ways other than war

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Andrea LeBlanc, whose husband died aboard one of the 9/11 hijacked planes, speaks out about alternatives to war — the path taken by the United States after the 2001 attacks.

The United States went to war in Afghanistan, whose Taliban leaders had harbored the al Qaeda network responsible for 9/11, the month after the September 11 attacks and then invaded Iraq in 2003. U.S. troops are still engaged in both wars.

LeBlanc, 67, said she is certain of one thing — her husband would not have wanted retaliation after the September 11 attacks.

“It depends what kind of culture we want and if we want kids to be thinking, caring, human beings, then they need to be given tools to imagine other ways,” LeBlanc, a retired veterinarian, said from her home in Lee, New Hampshire.

“Wars do not bring peace,” added LeBlanc, whose husband Robert LeBlanc taught cultural geography at the University of New Hampshire for 35 years. “So much of what’s happened has been at the expense of our own humanity.”

LeBlanc’s husband was aboard United Airlines Flight 175 that al Qaeda hijackers crashed into the south tower of the World Trade Center in New York.

Rather than feeling anger, LeBlanc said she felt hopelessness and despair over the inevitable retaliation by the United States.

It was not until more than a year after her husband’s death that she said she found like-minded people in the form of the group September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows.

LeBlanc was never an activist until she joined the group and traveled to Japan’s World War Two atomic bomb sites, Israel and the Palestinian territories, Washington and New York advocating for peace.

When U.S. forces killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in May and crowds of Americans in New York, Washington and elsewhere celebrated his death, LeBlanc said she “again felt very much like I did on 9/11 — out of sync with the rest of the world.”

“I don’t always know what to do with 9/11 but it has been handed to me and sometimes I cannot put it down.”

Editing by Mark Egan and Will Dunham

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