An Israeli bulldozer was about to destroy a Palestinian home (an all too common reality) in Gaza on March 16th 2003 when a young American woman stood in front of the machine. I’m sure she assumed, as did the young Chinese student a few years earlier that stood in front of the tank, the bulldozer would stop the closer it came to her. But, the driver and military person in the bulldozer did not stop and Rachael Corrie made international headlines, when she was crushed to death under the metal wheels of the Israeli tank.
The story of Rachel Corrie’s short, intense and creative life was amply recorded, with an “introduction from the Corrie family” in Let Me Stand Alone: The Journals of Rachel Corrie (2008). The play about her life, My Name is Rachel Corrie, is a must see drama that brings into poignant focus the vision and white heat life of Rachel Corrie.
Phil Sherwood, Colter Louwerse and I visited Craig and Cindy Corrie (parents of Rachel) in Olympia Washington Saturday August 13, 2016. Craig and Cindy were most generous with their time (we spent most of the day together) talking about Rachel, the questionable trial in Israel that acquitted those in the bulldozer and the ongoing work of the Corrie Foundation.
We were taken to see, after a most informative and lengthy discussion in the Corrie Foundation office in Olympia, the large Mural that depicts the struggle of many of the oppressed in the world and in Palestine--it’s a city Mural one and all should definitely see. We then went to Traditions Café & World Folk Art Restaurant for lunch--many memories of Rachel and family built into the bricks and mortar of the place.
A few years ago faculty, staff and students (who knew Rachel when she studied at Evergreen) had a special sculpture dedication to both peace and justice and Rachel, so the five of us went to Evergreen to ponder the artistic beauty and significance of the dove atop the triangle. It was a most tender and gracious day as we sat with Craig and Cindy Corrie--their daughter now dead for more than thirteen years (she would now be in her late 30s if still alive). It would be too easy, as parents, to either become bitter/angry/vindictive or simply retreat from the pain and tragedy of the world given Rachel’s untimely death, but Craig and Cindy Corrie have, as a result of their daughter’s death, been at the forefront of facing into the reality and implications of the Israeli-Palestinian tale of two cities and the close relationship between the USA and Israel (of which Rachel was a victim).
Our drive home from Olympia was done under a generous blue canopy and warm weather---such a contrast to March 16 2003. The life and legacy of Rachel Corrie does ever live on, though, through the work of her family, the Corrie Foundation and Let Me Stand Alone and My Name is Rachel Corrie.