Articles and Interviews
SEPTEMBER 11, 2011

Don was the keynote speaker at the September 11th Commemoration and Monument Dedication at Memorial Fountain Park in Bennington, Vermont. The monument was a twisted piece of steel from the site of the World Trade Center mounted on a large Vermont marble slab. cropped.jpg
Photo by Paul Guillotte

Ten years ago this morning my son, Pete, boarded United Airlines Flight 175 in Boston on his way to California to introduce a new software product he had helped develop for his employer. Among the other passengers boarding with him were Marwan al-Shehhi, Fayez Banihammad, Hamza al-Ghamdi, Ahmed al-Ghamdi, and Mohand al-Shehri, all of whom had been chosen by Osama bin Laden and trained in Afghanistan for what was to come. I went to my law office here in Bennington. My wife, Sally, took her father, Peter Donavan, to the doctors.

Mati Amin, his mother, father and five siblings were in Pashawar Pakistan. They were Afghan refugees escaping the war, oppression and dysfunction in their country. Osama bin Laden was in Afghanistan: Its instability his haven. He was waiting for news from America.

At about 8:45 that morning the pilots of United Airlines Flight 175 were murdered and Marwan al-Shehhi took control of the plane. At 9:03 he flew it into the South Tower of the World Trade Center. By noon, Sally and I knew our son, with thousands others, was dead. Not long after, the people in the streets of Pashawar were cheering and Osama bin Laden was congratulating himself for all the world to see.

It was the end of my life as I had known it and for the next three years I was in a dark abyss of doubt, wondering why: Why did these young men, Marwan, Fayez, Hamza, Ahmed and Mohand choose to die and to kill; why did Osama bin Laden (why would anyone) want them, urge them to and brag about it; why the cheering crowds in Pashawar; why Pete; why all the others in New York, at the Pentagon and in Shankseville; and why and why and why?

During those three years Mati and his siblings attended school and helped their mother manage their household in Pakistan. Their father, Amin, was in Afghanistan founding and developing a non-governmental organization committed to the development of a stable, secure and prosperous Afghanistan. They were praying to Allah and I was praying to my God and others were praying to their Gods. And I wondered. How did we come to this and where do we – where do I – go from here. And without answers, why should we – why should I – go anywhere?

By July 2004, the 9/11 Commission had issued its report and the historical context and chronology of events leading up to and following the deaths had become known – as best they could. But it did not answer the questions that plagued me. Then, in August, Sally and I learned from a friend of Pete’s, a marine serving in Afghanistan, of Abdul Nabi, a teacher defying the Taliban, and educating young Afghan boys and girls, without shelter or resources, in a small village in Logar Province Afghanistan. And answers began to come. We, with the help of many others here and in Afghanistan, collected school supplies and then built a school in Logar for young girls yearning to learn about themselves and the world. We came to know Amin, Saraj, Shahmahmood, Hajji Malik and many other good and courageous men in Afghanistan: the country where the deaths of Pete and all the others were conceived and planned.

In April 2006, Sally and I attended the dedication of the girls’ school in Logar. Later that month Sally met Amin in Kabul and soon after her return to the United States learned that he wanted Mati to study here. She began doing what was needed to make that happen.

On Monday, August 7th that year (five years ago), she sent this email to some friends and family:

For some reason tonight’s sticky sultry air is full of dragonflies—Pete’s second favorite insect—and a deer just ran across the meadow in front of the house. I want all to stay put until Mati arrives on Thursday. His room is redecorated with two desks (one would have been enough but I am nothing if not excessive) and the bed made. I think about what it has meant to prepare for his arrival. I have finally unpacked boxes left in the cellar exactly where they were placed following our move here the weekend before 9/11. It is an attempt to restore some order in our lives. Mati’s coming has forced us to unpack the past, erect shelves, look at pictures of Pete in various stages of his life, read through letters written to him by girls I can’t remember, consider the impact of his remarkable but brief life and move on once again with resolve and hope.

Tonight I came across the following in John Gardner’s book October Light:

"If his son could come back—if some magic could happen in the world just once and his son could slip back through the secret door… But, there was of course no secret door; that was the single most important fact in the universe."

We know that Mati is some kind of a gift that will keep us engaged in living and working for a world that needs to do better. Soon it will be Mati’s job to solve Afghanistan’s problems. It is a difficult, almost unobtainable, objective. All the while the back drop of news has been unrelenting in its coverage of death and destruction in the Middle East and Iraq… and Afghanistan. War is such a waste of human potential.

I can hear the rumble of distant thunder that heralds a break in the heat. For Don it and the news call up this quote from King Lear:

Had I your tongues and eyes, I’d use them so
That heaven’s vault should crack.

That Thursday, Mati came into our lives: Then Javid and Soraya, Shabana and Sima, Ahmadshah and Mustafa, Naeem and Farid, Mohib and Alina and many others with names we never imagined we would know. They have learned from us and we have learned from them. We came to trust and love each other. And I now have answers. Not all of them, but some. And I have reason to hope. The kind of hope of which Vaclav Havel, the former President of the Czech Republic, spoke when he said:

Hope is a state of mind, not of the world . . . Either we have hope or we don’t; it is a dimension of the soul, and it’s not essentially dependent on some particular observation of the world or estimate of the situation.

It is an orientation of the spirit, an orientation of the heart; it transcends the world that is immediately experienced, and is anchored somewhere beyond its horizons . . .

Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out. It is this hope, above all, which gives strength to live and continually try new things.

We need this kind of hope to cross divides of culture and religion, tribes and nations, families and neighbors – to live with dignity and search for understanding. These things cannot be achieved everywhere and all the time or even predictably, but, it is in striving, reaching for them that life has its meaning.

It is easy to look at that piece of steel and despair. But despair is what Osama bin Laden and those who follow him want for us. This we must not do. I see that piece of steel as part of what Theodore Parker and later Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr. referred to as the long arc of the moral universe.

I see in it words written in 1980 by Abdullah Azzam, the ideological father of al Qaida, in Martyrs: The Building Blocks of Nations. He said:

History does not write its lines except with blood. Glory does not build its lofty edifice except with skulls. Honor and respect cannot be established except on a foundation of cripples and corpses.

And I see words by Rienhold Niebuhr written a half century ago in The Irony of American History. He said:

Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope. Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore we are saved by love.

And I see words by George Russell written a century ago in The National Being. He said:

We have to discover what is fundamental in Irish character . . . the affections, leanings, tendencies toward one or more of the eternal principals which have governed and inspired all great human effort, all great civilizations from the dawn of history.

And I see in that piece of steel a challenge. What are our affections, leanings and tendencies and how will they inspire us as a nation: the most powerful nation on this shrinking global? George Russell lamented that “[a]ll great wars in history, all conquests, all national antagonisms, result in an exchange of characteristics” and that we are “condemned to be as we have condemned.” But this does not have to be and it is for us, each of us, to prove it false.

When I come here in the future and look on this place, I will think of Pete and all the other innocent lives cut short on September 11th, of those who risked their health in the aftermath of the destruction that day, and of the tens of thousands who have been wounded and killed confronting the scourge of terrorism. And as the waves of sadness pass over me, I will remember that those responsible for 9/11 had their hands on the arc of the moral universe trying to shape it. They and others like them are trying to shape it still. And I will think of my wife’s hands and Mati’s hands, his father’s hands and the hands of all the others I have come to know since Pete’s death that have been and still are on that arc and how I might put my hands on it too. And it is my hope that when you look at that piece of steel you will think not of the hands that twisted it, but of what you can do that is worth doing, that is true and beautiful and good, even virtuous: putting your hands on the arc, shaping it.

Over the past ten years, I have come to believe that it is ordinary people doing these things with faith, love and hope, that proves the truth of what Theodore Parker said in his sermon in Boston more than 150 years ago. I will close with it.

I do not pretend to understand the moral universe; the arc is a long one, my eye reaches but little ways; I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by the experience of sight, I can divine it by conscience. And from what I see I am sure it bends towards justice.

SEPTEMBER 11, 2010 Picture.jpg

Don and Sally were interviewed by Dick Gordon for American Public Media's The Story and Vermont Public Radio about their continuing involvement in Afghanistan. The interview was aired September 11th. Link to: Next Chapter: Schools for Afghanistan


Don Goodrich contributed an article, "The Taliban, then and now" for the Bershire Bulletin, an annual publication of the Berkshire School, Sheffield, MA from which Don and Peter graduated. The school has supported three Afghan exchange students recommended by the Foundation. To access the Bulletin use the link below and click on "A Munchkin, David Bowie, and the Taliban"

A Munchkin, David Bowie, and the Taliban.

The Art of Jane McKenzie
Susan Perry, editor
Orbis Books, Fall 2009

Twenty eight paintings by artist Janet McKenzie with reflections by leading women writers

This book explores how holiness can empower women and how empowered women work to bring about the reign of God. The contributors include writers such as Joyce Rupp, Joan Chittister, Diane Butler Bass, Elizabeth A. Johnson, Sr. Wendy Beckett, Ann Patchett, Helen Prejean, Chung Hyun Kyung, Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, and many others. Sally Goodrich reflected on the meaning of Homage to 9/11. Artist Janet McKenzie has committed her life’s work to creating inclusive art celebrating women. McKenzie Holiness & the Feminine Spirit.jpg

The Family Plan Boston Globe September 19, 2009

NORTH ANDOVER - The two teenagers perched side by side on a sofa at the Brooks School are dressed nearly identically, in skinny jeans and embroidered blouses. Their bare feet are tucked underneath them and dark scarves cover their hair. Sixteen-year-old Marjeela Basij-Rasikh and her 19-year-old sister, Shabana, don’t much look like political powerhouses, but to hear them quietly lay out their long-range plans for Afghanistan is to reconsider the nature of change.

SEPTEMBER 11, 2009
9/11 Interviews and Articles

NORTH ADAMS, MA (WAMC) - Eight years ago, the Goodrich family lost their son Peter on Flight 175, which hit the second tower. The Berkshire family has since taken to advocating for victims' rights and working to help the citizens of Afghanistan. Their journey has even led them to build a school for girls in one of Afghanistan's most dangerous provinces. Our Berkshire Bureau Chief Charlie Deitz reports on the Goodrich's, eight years later . © Copyright 2009,

WAMC, Northeast Public Radio by Charles Deitz



President Obama reads 10 hand-picked letters every day to get a glimpse of what's on people's minds and in their hearts.

Amnesty International has compiled powerful letters written by 10 influential thinkers – from an exiled poet to a former military interrogator to an esteemed actor and activist – that boldly make the case against torture.

Read the Ten Against Torture letters and send the one you find most moving to President Obama. One was written by Don Goodrich

Amnesty International USA Ten Against Torture

A Rare Look Inside Taliban Operations in Afghanistan

PBS News Hour
Jeffrey Brown Interviews Charles Sennott
August 14, 2009

Jeffrey Brown speaks with GlobalPost's Charles Sennott about his interviews with Taliban leaders in Afghanistan. Link to The On Line News Hour site for an audio and print version of this interview which includes an account of the Foundation's Logar school and the recent bombing that occurred nearby killing twentyfive people, thirteen of whom were children on their way to school.

PBS The News Hour Charles Sennott Interview August 14, 2009

Life, death and the Taliban: War of ideas
A woman, a school and a tragically complex relationship.

By C.M. Sennott - GlobalPost
Published: August 7, 2009 10:24 ET-A

KABUL — On the morning of July 9, boys and girls were walking down a narrow road in the Logar Province on their way to school just as they did every day at that time.

That’s when the large bomb packed in a timber truck pulled up at a checkpoint and detonated, killing 25 people, including 13 school children, in the worst bombing in Afghanistan in several years.

It is believed the Taliban carried out the attack in retaliation for the girls’ school that had been built in the village in the Mohammed Agha district.

War of Ideas

Who, in God's name, could kill kids walking to school?
C.M. Sennott's Notebook:
July 11, 2009 01:49 ET | Updated: July 11, 2009 09:31 ET

I know that road just outside of Kabul in the Logar Province. I know the kids who walk to school on it every morning. I know their faces were full of hope and glee when I saw them two years ago at their beautiful new school and I can only imagine the fear that must be etched on their faces now.

On Thursday morning, Taliban terrorists packed a timber truck full of explosives and detonated it at a checkpoint between two schools in the Logar Province, they killed 25 people, including 13 elementary school students.

I was just in Afghanistan reporting on the girls’ school that is right where this bombing went off. On Wednesday I met with Sally and Don Goodrich. They are an amazing couple from Vermont who lost their son, Peter, in the September 11 attacks. They raised the money to build the girls’ school in his honor through the Peter M. Goodrich Memorial Foundation. Two years ago, I went on a trip with Sally to document the opening of the school. It was a joyous occasion. And we stayed in touch and have become friends.

Use above link for the remainder of Charles M. Sennott's notebook on Logar bombing.

Inside the Taliban by Charles Sennott for PRI's The World
July 14, 2009

Link to the Series Inside the Taliban by Charles Sennott

The Taliban have risen, fallen, and then risen again in the past 15 years. The Islamist movement rose to power in Afghanistan in the mid-1990s, ruled the country in the late 90s, and fell to the US-led invasion in 2001. Nowadays, the Taliban seem to be regaining strength, not only in Afghanistan but in neighboring Pakistan. Reporter Charles Sennott covered the Taliban from their rise in Afghanistan, to their ouster in 2001. Sennott recently returned to Afghanistan and Pakistan to do a series of reports on the history and fluctuating fortunes of the Taliban.


Peter Goodrich was a victim of the September 11 attacks in 2001. He was a passenger on the second plane that crashed into the World Trade Center. Goodrich was 33 years old; his parents were devastated. But Peter’s mother, Sally Goodrich, found a way to honor his life. She raised money to build a school for girls in Afghanistan’s Logar Province. In 2007, Sally Goodrich journeyed from her Vermont home to Afghanistan, to visit the school she helped build. Charles Sennott traveled with her, and filed this report for The World. You can find more pictures, and a transcript of that original story here.

Now, fast forward to 2009. In today’s Afghanistan, schools for girls lie directly on the front line in the war against the Taliban. Almost daily, girls’ schools are bombed and burned. The Afghan Ministry of Education now estimates that at least 20 percent of its 11-thousand schools across the country are in districts under control of the Taliban.

For our Inside the Taliban series, Charles Sennott and Sally Goodrich return to the school she helped build, only to find that it now appears to be under control of the Taliban.

MCLA Confers Degrees, Cetificates on 357

By Tammy Daniels - May 16, 2009
iBerkshires Staff

Film Festival to Screen Documentary on Goodriches

- April 30, 2009

GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — A documentary about the Goodrich family's efforts in building peaceful pursuits in Afghanistan after the loss of their son in the 2001 terrorist attacks will be shown as a work-in-progress at this year's Berkshire International Film Festival.

A 45-minute section of "Axis of Good: A Story From 9/11" by producer and director Rick Derby will be screened on Sunday, May 17, at 4 p.m. at the Triplex Cinema. This the first time the film festival has screened a work in progress.

Documentary about Foundation at Berkshire International Film Festival

Schooled by the Taliban
By C.M. Sennott - GlobalPost
Published: April 17, 2009 07:06 ET

"Ever since that crystal clear fall morning of Sept. 11, 2001, Sally Goodrich has been on a journey.

It led her to Afghanistan, where she has spent the last several years reaching out to the very country where the hijackers who took the life of her son, Peter, were trained, funded and inspired. Hers was a long journey toward healing and then hope."
To Continue Reading Charles M. Sennott Article

‘Sugar' is a verb and so is 'hope': making maple syrup in Vermont from Ali's Cleaner Plate Club blog

The author of this blog accompanied a class of Pine Cobble School preschool and first grade students, Williamstown, MA to observe the Goodrich/Donavan sugaring operation. To read Ali's piece link to: 'Sugar' is a verb and so is 'hope'...on Ali's Cleaner Plate Club blog.


Bitter Roots, Tender Shoots is a moving portrayal of the lives of women and girls in Afghanistan in 2008. respected journalist Sally Armstrong revisits Afghanistan to compare women’s lives pre- and post-Taliban, interviewing Afghan and Western women who are dedicated to improving health, education, culture, religion, and human rights. She is a member of the Order of Canada and has received numerous journalism and humanitarian awards including honorary doctorates from Royal Roads University and McGill University.

Follow-up Media Appearance: RJ McKay Radio Show
RJ McKay interviewed Don and Sally Goodrich on the RJ McKay Show in Philadelphia, WPHT (1210 AM talk radio) on Saturday, Feb 7, 2009.

Web Talk Radio Vibrant Living with Diane Brandon
To hear the interview use the link below
Diane Brandon Interview

Sally was interviewed by Diane about her life since the September 11 attacks and the work of the Foundation on December 8, 2008

The Leonard Lopate Show, WNYC Public Radio
On September 11, 2008 Sally and Don appeared with Steve and Liz Alderman, who founded the Peter Alderman Foundation, to discuss their work following the death of their sons on 9/11.
To hear interview click on the following link:
Interview on September 11th on the Lopate Show

Vermont Edition, Vermont Public Radio
Vermont Public Radio aired an analysis by Dr. Jennifer Fleuri, Profesor at Dartmouth, Julie Petersen from Afghan Women Judges Training, Jonathon Hoffman of Direct Aid International and Shabana Basij Rasikch, Middlebury College student, on the impact of large and small humanitarian efforts by Vermonters in Afghanistan. Don Goodrich introduced the September 10, 2008 segment. of Calamities.jpg

The Book of Calamities
Don and Sally Goodrich are interviewed in THE BOOK OF CALAMITIES: Five Questions About Suffering and Its Meaning (Little Brown, August 2008), "a book that combines reportage, memoir, and moral philosophy to explore suffering and its narratives" by Peter Trachtenberg For more on Peter Trachtenberg, please visit his blog: A Nest of Thorns: Politics, Cultures, Spirituality

University of Maine at Farmington Commencement Address
Sally Goodrich gave the commencement address on May 17, 2007 at the graducation ceremony at the University of Maine at Farmington, Farmington, Maine. The following links are news reports of the event:
Sally Goodrich Commencement Speaker at University of Maine Farmington

Below is a copy of Sally's address.

Media Appearance: RJ McKay Radio Show
RJ McKay interviewed Sally Goodrich on the RJ McKay Show in Philadelphia, WPHT (1210 AM talk radio) on May 3, 2008.

Readers' Digest April 2008
Giving Girls Wings
Devastated by the loss of her son on 9/11, Sally Goodrich found new life helping the children of Afghanistan.
By Charles M. Sennott

A Public Space
Issue O5 2008
Essay: The Grief Work by Peter Trachtenberg

On narratives of suffering
Issue 5 Is...Roland Kelts on the streets of Japan; Samantha Hunt on Parris Island; Lucy Begg in Richard Linklater’s treehouse; Jervey Tervalon in Baltimore & Hollywood; Steve Featherstone in latrines; James Lasdun in a greenhouse; Jesmyn Ward on the road; Ernst Weiss on a ship full of rats; Leslie Jamison in Nicaragua; Peter Trachtenberg in sixth-century Rome; Wells Tower in a new house; Mario Bellatin in Times Square; Craig Morgan Teicher in the woods; Robyn Schiff in an inventor’s workshop; Zoe Strauss in El Paso; and more.

A Public Space is a new independent magazine of literature and culture...We believe that stories are how we make sense of our lives and how we learn about other lives. We believe that stories matter.

Practicing Conscious Living and Dying Stories of the Eternal Continuum of Consciousness by Annamaria Hemingway
An uplifting collection of spiritually illuminating texts and powerfully thought- provoking real life stories, showing death as an integral part of life. O Books

'Afterlife' by Peter Trachtenberg
Link to O, The Oprah Magazine Article
September 2007
Peter Trachtenberg won a 2007 Whiting Award for his work on The Book of Calamities, an exploration of suffering and its narratives, which will be published by Little, Brown in Spring 2008. For this book, he observed genocide tribunals in Rwanda; took part in post-tsunami relief efforts in Sri Lanka; and interviewed an elderly survivor of the Siege of Leningrad. "Afterlife", his article for O Magazine is an excerpt from The Book of Calamities.

The Story with Dick Gordon
Sept. 11, 2007
After Don and Sally lost their son, Peter, in the World Trade Center attacks, they started a program to help educate young Afghans. Dick Gordon talked with Sally and one of her Afghan exchange students.

A Mother's Grief by Charles Sennott
Public Radio International
May 11, 2007

Some 3,000 people were killed in the terrorist attacks of September 11th. One of them was Peter Goodrich. He was on the second plane that crashed into the World Trade Center. Peter was 33 years old. His parents were devastated. But they found a way to honor their son's life. Peter's mother, Sally Goodrich, raised money to build a school for girls in Afghanistan's Logar Province. She's also taken three exchange students from Afghanistan into her home. Last month, Sally Goodrich journeyed from Bennington, Vermont to the school she helped create. The Boston Globe's Charles Sennott went with her. Logar 2007 Koran.jpg
Charlie Sennott taping in Logar 2007 with Shakiba Saanga Amaj and Sally. Saanga, a journalist with Shamshad TV, was killed in June 2007.
Photo courtesy of Amin

A Mother's Mission by Charles Sennott
May 13, 2007
The Boston Globe Magazine
Her son's death on 9/11 spurred Sally Goodrich to do the one thing she knows best: educate. The beneficiaries of her grief became young girls in war-ravaged Afghanistan.

Don Goodrich's Testimony about Security and Civil Liberties

Don Goodrich's Testimony before the House Subcommittee on National Security courtesy of You Tube.

ABC Person of the Week: Sally Goodrich
Aug. 26, 2005
Mother of 9/11 Victim Turns Personal Loss Into Hope for Hundreds