On the third anniversary of Israel’s twenty-two day invasion of the besieged Gaza Strip, Chicagoans took to the streets to honor the fallen with a mass balloon release.
Among the 1,400 Palestinians killed during Israel’s invasion were at least 340 children who were, in most cases, playing soccer in the streets, sleeping with their favorite stuffed animals, or running errands for mom and dad when the missiles hit. Chicago Movement for Palestinian Rights (CMPR), a youth-led collective, organized this gathering to symbolically commemorate these lost lives. Organizers in Nabi Saleh arranged an identical event the day before but were attacked with Israeli tear gas and water cannons.
Each balloon was tagged with the name and age of one of the killed children. The materials used were all biodegradable and the seed paper used for the tags is expected to bloom flowers wherever the tags land, a small but powerful tribute to the beauty and resilience of our fellow Palestinians in Gaza.
I remember going to MUNUC (model united nations university of Chicago) conference right as this was winding down. I represented Israel that year, and while I did pretty well I was scared most of the time. I knew anyone in our committee of 200 plus people would gun for me, though I ended up having a lovely chat with a couple of cute girls from Jordon on the first night. I mean, kinda made things really sink in when you talk to people who had the incident happen in the next country over.