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Remembering Rachel Corrie

Olympia recognizes the 10th anniversary of that stand in Gaza

RACHEL CORRIE: The death of the 23-year-old will be remembered this weekend in Olympia. Photo credit: courtesy

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At least twice a week I walk by The Mural Speaks! - a 4,000 square foot painting that depicts a giant olive tree with its branches extending across the brick wall on the corner of State Avenue and Capitol Way in Olympia, around the globe to sister-city Rafah, Palestine, where another mural exists. Both murals bring colorful messages of solidarity, stewardship and remembrance to the hearts and minds of everyone they possibly can and both murals stand as a testament to the bravery of one young woman - Rachel Corrie.

Corrie was 23 years old when she traveled from Olympia to the Gaza Strip to fight for Palestinian rights. Tragically, she was killed when a bulldozer ran over her as she defended a Palestinian family home.

Since the fateful day 10 years ago, a struggle for human rights has been brought to the forefront in Olympia and beyond - the murals were erected and a community of Corrie supporters continues to grow, working to live her mission of peace and social justice.

In recognition of the 10th anniversary of Corrie's stand in Gaza, several events will be held this weekend throughout downtown Olympia.

Friday, Olympia Film Society presents a screening of Fida Qishta's Where Should the Birds Fly at 6:30 p.m. at the Capitol Theater. Qishta, a young Palestinian filmmaker born and raised in Gaza, examines the effects of the 22-day Israeli military operation in the Gaza Strip in 2008-09 that killed more than 1,400 Palestinians, the vast majority civilians. After the screening, an audience discussion will be held with Qishta and Sonja Wentz, Rachel Corrie Foundation board member.

The Saturday schedule is as follows:

1 p.m., Sylvester Park, 615 Washington St. SE: "Ten Years is Enough!" rally challenging U.S. aid to Israel and the lack of accountability for how those resources are used.

2:30 to 9 p.m., Olympia Ballroom, 116 Legion Way SE: Community celebration featuring music and dance by Batiste Dabke, House of Tarab, David Rovics and others, remembrances from Rachel's parents - Cindy and Craig Corrie - and others, keynote address from Phyllis Bennis and Ramzy Baroud and a community potluck from 5-7 p.m.

Interactive displays, a visual feast reflecting Corrie, will also be part of the community celebration inside the Olympia Ballroom.

"I hope these 10-year anniversary memorial events contribute toward the achievement of a greater awareness and understanding of all the factors that contribute to the ongoing unacceptable situation in the Middle East," says local Corrie supporter Robert FW Whitlock. "As well as thinking about the best avenues for de-escalation of conflict, toward mutually beneficial and final resolution of conflict, so that all people may one day live in peace."

I, like many people in Olympia, pass The Mural Speaks! multiple times a week. Some days we hurry by without a second glance. Other days, we linger, letting our eyes wander across the 3-D billboard of artistic collaboration and political context. Over the next few weeks let us rest our gaze even longer, in reflection of the 10-year anniversary of Corrie's stand, the reason for so much anger, frustration, hope and action, and the reason the mural even exists.

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