The Peter C. Alderman Foundation: “Because Peter Lived, the World is a Better Place”

photoOn September 11, 2001, Stephen and Elizabeth Alderman of Westchester County, New York were in the midst of touring southern France, enjoying a 2 week vacation intended to honor Stephen’s 60th birthday. While visiting the medieval French village of Rousillon, an upset and crying cashier in a gift shop informed the unaware couple that the World Trade Center and Pentagon had been attacked – which prompted frantic phone calls on their part to ascertain the whereabouts of their children, who were already in contact with each other as the tragic events transpired that morning. Their daughter Jane Alderman, mindful that her youngest brother Peter frequented the location of the World Trade Center, had emailed him and warned him not to go downtown. Attending a conference above the impact site of American Airlines Flight 11, Peter was already in danger at the Windows on the World Restaurant and informed his sister to that effect with the words “I am there.” At exactly 9:40am, Peter’s last email arrived in Jane’s inbox, ominously stating that he was stuck in a smoke-filled room and in absolute terror for his life. Just before 10:30am, the North Tower collapsed, killing Peter Alderman – who at the age of 25 was the youngest of the Alderman children.

Aldermans

Stephen and Elizabeth Alderman
Photo credit: Encore Careers / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

As with all families who have suffered the violence of terrorism, the Alderman family struggled to cope with the mental and emotional crisis that came as a consequence of Peter’s death.You either kill yourself – crawl into bed and never get out – or you put one foot in front of the other,” says Elizabeth Alderman. But the Aldermans have done substantially more than just place one foot in front of the other, converting the depths of their sorrow into the formation of “a foundation to help children overcome the emotional wounds of terrorism and mass violence.” Initiated in 2003, the goal of the Peter C. Alderman Foundation is to “foster homegrown mental health systems around the world in partnership with indigenous academic, government, and religious institutions.” The driving force behind their determination is the catharsis that can occur when positive efforts occur in the midst of grief, sorrow, and tragedy – bringing light in the midst of darkness. Because Peter lived, the world is a better place,” the Aldermans state emphatically when questioned about their motivation and reasons for creating the international organization that bears the name of their martyred son.

The idea for their award-winning mission required a gut-wrenching spiritual sojourn on their part to convert the anger and devastation they naturally felt in the wake of 911 into benevolence and humanitarianism. Trapped in a downward spiral of merciless grief, depression and insomnia, the Alderman’s serendipitously discovered the answer to their personal trauma while watching a segment of the ABC news program Nightline, which chronicled the mental torment of refugees fleeing from unrelenting war and terrorism around the world. Learning that 1/6 of the planet’s population lives in severe emotional trauma due to the aftermath of violence, the Aldermans used the $1.4 million they received from the 911 Victims’ Compensation Fund to seed the initial phases of the Peter C. Alderman Foundation, which was but one of about 300 foundations to spring up in the wake of the 911 attacks.

As featured in the video that can be viewed below, the foundation initially began its work in Cambodia, a country heavily afflicted with psychological trauma, due to years of mass genocide that occurred there under the Khmer Rouge from 1975 until 1979. The

Aldermans have included Buddhists monks as part of the foundation’s therapy in that country, owed to the Cambodian belief that depression and anxiety are a result of the displeasure and abandonment of the gods. Now counting the services of over 600 treatment personnel, the Peter C. Alderman Foundation has reached into 22 countries, including Uganda, Rwanda and Haiti – countries that have suffered disastrous civil war, genocide and unrelenting violence. In but a few short years, the Aldermans’ work has been the recipient of esteemed awards, such as the 2009 Purpose Prize, which awards $100,000 to five people over the age of 60 who have adapted new and creative ways to solve tough social problems. Undoubtedly, the highest honor bestowed on the Aldermans has been the October 20, 2011 Presidential Citizens Medal, granted to 13 Americans by President Barack Obama in recognition of their efforts to “set examples of helping one’s neighbors in keeping with American tradition.”

Peter Alderman

Peter Alderman

The Aldermans have incisively realized that the surest therapy for families that have suffered the emotional pain of terrorism is a personal, diametrical dedication to the pursuit of world peace and hope. Simultaneously, it is also the most significant way to honor those that have died in acts of terror, because – as the Aldermans have discovered – it is the only way to find positive meaning in the senseless and violent tragedy of their death. This realization is also crucial to the future of the human race, since terrorism seems to be reaching for more destructive means as time moves forward – and could very likely embrace nuclear destruction one day. Likewise, this realization of hope in the midst of tragedy is connected very strongly to the creation of a national monument that honors victims such as Peter Alderman. Such a national emblem would not only tribute those that have perished as innocent victims, but it would also stand as an inspiration to the world for much-needed tolerance, peace and global brotherhood. Please show your personal understanding of this need by clicking on the link below and signing the petition.

You can help promote the establishment of a monument dedicated to all American victims of terrorism, whether they died at home or abroad, by clicking the link above and signing the petition. Nothing is asked but your signature for a good cause.

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The Institute for the Study of Violent Groups (ISVG)

Study   Established in 2002, the Institute for the Study of Violent Groups (ISVG) is presently located at the University of New Haven in West Haven, Connecticut – where it has gained considerable international notoriety. The brainchild of Dr. Richard Ward, its original formation occurred at Sam Houston State University, in Huntsville, Texas, where Dr. Ward served as the Vice-President for Research and Special Programs and the Dean of the Criminal Justice Center. A noted expert on terrorism, organized crime, and international corruption, he had previously spent 27 years at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he implemented the Office of International Criminal Justice for the study of comparative concerns in transnational crime. Through a grant provided by the Bureau of Justice Assistance at the United States Department of Justice, the inception of ISVG revolved around the hope to research and identify the inclinations, connections and tactics of international terrorist groups through a “relational database” available to the public. As an open source research center, the ultimate goal of the data collection is to collaboratively augment the overall knowledge of radical violent extremism and global crimes – thereby empowering ISVG to “create analytic products that incorporate geospatial visualizations, link associations, temporal outlines, statistical dashboards, and social network analysis.”

Three ResourcesDr. Ward transferred ISVG to its new home at the University of New Haven in 2008 and initiated the first dissemination of the database results, which took the name of the Violent Extremism Knowledge Base (VKB) in 2011. The ISVG database is organized with the purpose of capturing and recording 1,500 diverse variables associated with groups, individuals, and events that are linked with radical violent crime and extremism around the globe. After 10 years of diligent research, the database now contains over 223,000 incidents that have involved about 43,000 individuals – with links to about 3,000 different organizations. ISVG communicates this information through “advanced visualization and analytic products,” with the intention of aiding those that are empowered to make important decisions on terrorism and global crime.

The research of ISVG focuses on geographic regions, the movements of radically violent groups, and specific events that involve terrorism or transnational criminality. The reporting of this information involves charts, geo-referenced data in the form of maps, and statistical timelines that reveal activity over identified periods of time. The ISVG website describes this form of data amalgamation in the following manner:

Link and network association charts – provide insights into a region such as discovering connections between actors, the existence of new groups, the dissolution of known alliances, and shared participation in attacks.

Event data is geospatially enabledgeoreferencing allows information to be used in visualizations that can uncover new hot spots of activity, trends in attack locations, and the growth of violence across regions over time. Data can also be imported into existing geospatial environments as dynamic data layers.

Information is temporally tagged – data to be exported and used to create detailed timelines of activity, statistical graphs that are used to expose trends over time, and to examine the activity levels within a region over periods of time.

Colombia-Map-lg

ISVG Is Noted Worldwide For Its Analytic Visualizations Like This

The research of ISVG involves manually sifting through information gained from web sites, journals that are available online, social media, governmental publications, and other traditional open source media that is accessible worldwide. Highly competent researchers, fluent in a multiplicity of languages, merge the compiled data into analytic visualizations for presentation to the public and specific “clients” positioned within governmental organization and interagency homeland security. ISVG prides itself on a “three-tiered quality control process,” dedicated to “transparency, accuracy, and accountability from the researchers, database content, and analytic products.” Data acquisition and synthesis are an ongoing concern of ISVG projects located across the United States, involving interaction with multiple government and private agencies vested in the maintenance of national security. The website for ISVG offers a search function by which any interested person can review the profiles of violent radical groups – by geographic region, significant acts of crime and terror, or notable personages. Likewise, the ISVG blog offers interesting and frequent “links of the day” pulled from “hundreds of open-source news and intelligence articles from around the globe.” Visitors to the website can also access colorful and informative visualizations that offer interactive features by clicking on “data points” within the graphic.

The existence and easy availability of ISVG is an obvious indication that violent extremism has become a global problem of vital concern. Although terrorism is not a newcomer to the history of civilization, recent advancements in technology have made it a menace that must be tracked more carefully than in past centuries. The events of 911 are an obvious indication of this fact, involving aviation, cell phones, international crime, transnational financing, and subsequent mass destruction. ISVG offers the advancement in sophistication required to meet these threats, which in time could involve extremist groups capable of venting nuclear destruction on large metropolitan areas. Proactive measures such as those offered by ISVG are crucial to meeting this fanaticism head-on and before the fact, rather than suffering an immense tragedy that makes 911 pale in comparison. The video below is offered as additional information for those accessing this article, but we also ask that you please click on the link below and sign the petition to which this website is dedicated.

You can help promote the establishment of a monument dedicated to all American victims of terrorism, whether they died at home or abroad, by clicking the link above and signing the petition. Nothing is asked but your signature for a good cause.

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