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The 15th anniversary of 9/11 is, to be sure, an occasion for remembrance of the many victims of that horrifying day. But commemorating that one tragic day is not enough. Those thousands of victims were just the first of the many who have lost their lives in a decade-and-a-half of downstream consequences that we have labeled the “War on Terror” – in Iraq and Afghanistan, in London, Boston and Madrid, in Libya and Syria, in San Bernardino, Paris and Orlando.

War on Terror

Writing About the War on Terror: Essay Contest

Beyond remembrance and looking backward, we need reflection on the present and future – reflection on the human and social cost of the “War on Terror,” reflection on how this host of horrors can come to an end.

We may try to imagine and empathize with the agony of a Twin Towers worker trapped by fire, or an Afghan bride burned beyond recognition in a misdirected drone attack, a Marine blown up by an improvised roadside device in Iraq or a child crippled by stray shrapnel from a U.S. cluster bomb. But remembrance of all these victims of 15 years of “War on Terror” and its blowback – numbers climbing into the millions – is beyond human capacity for comprehension, let alone empathy.

Beyond remembrance and looking backward, we need reflection on the present and future – reflection on the human and social cost of the “War on Terror,” reflection on how this host of horrors can come to an end.

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To encourage broader contemplation of these urgent but often overlooked issues, Southern California Americans for Democratic Action Foundation, in conjunction with co-sponsors LA Progressive and others, announces an essay contest, aimed principally but not exclusively at students, a generation whose social consciousness has been forged largely within the post- 9/11 period.

Some questions that we hope to see addressed in these essays include:

  • What has the War on Terror accomplished?
  • When and how can the War on Terror come to an end?
  • Are Americans safer after 15 years, and if so, at what cost?
  • What are the root causes of this conflict and how can they be resolved or reduced?

No single essay will be expected to address all of the questions listed above. Three parallel competitions will be held, one for high school students, another for college students, and a third for the rest of us.

Prizes and members of the judging panels, including academics and journalists, will be announced.