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Film Captures Efforts to Forgive After 9/11


On Sept. 7, Fordham will host the world theatre premiere of the documentary In Our Son’s Name, an intimate look at the efforts of Fordham professor Orlando Rodriguez, Ph.D., and his wife, Phyllis, to rebuild their lives after their son died in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

The hour-long film focuses on Rodriguez’ difficult journey toward forgiveness and reconciliation following the death of 31-year-old Gregory, a Cantor Fitzgerald employee who worked on the 103rd floor of Tower One.

Orlando and Phyllis Rodriguez Photo courtesy of InOurSon’

Guided by the principles of nonviolence and compassion, and going against the grain of popular opinion, the couple publicly opposed the United States’ military actions in Afghanistan and Iraq. They joined with other victims’ families to form September 11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows.

Then, in November 2002, they and some others were invited to meet the mother of Zacarias Moussaoui, the so-called “21st hijacker,” who faced the death penalty for conspiring to plan the 9/11 attacks.

At Moussaoui’s sentencing trial, Rodriguez gave a victim impact statement on behalf of the defense, describing, among other things, the course he co-taught in the spring of 2002 on terrorism and society. The defense’s intention—successful, as it turned out—was to show jurors that many families of 9/11 victims were able to turn their grief into productive action.

The film was produced and directed by Gayla Jamison and funded by the Catholic Communication Campaign.

Sept. 7 Showing Times and Locations:


Rose Hill campus
Noon to 2 p.m.
Keating 3rd Floor Auditorium

Lincoln Center campus
Noon to 2 p.m.
Room LL 309

Following the Rose Hill showing, Rodriguez, professor of sociology and anthropology, and producer/director Jamison, will be on hand to take questions.

“We didn’t want to do the movie at first,” recalled Rodriguez, a former chair of the department who was teaching on the day his son was killed. “We knew it was going to heighten those feelings we had already experienced, just make it more raw.

“But we also knew there was potential here for opening up people, especially Americans, to the fact that there is such a thing as reconciliation and restorative justice,” he said.”

“I believe that there are a lot of misconceptions about political violence and terrorism, and I think that the message in this film can show students that there is another way of thinking about 9/11 and its aftermath.”

The event is free and open to the public.

Jamison said Fordham was the perfect place to do a live premiere of a film that brings a spiritual message to those who see it.

“Dr. Rodriguez has been a professor at Fordham for a long time, and I believe his work here, coupled with the support he received from the University to deal with the enormity of this terrible thing, has helped shape his vision of reconciliation, peace and justice—the Rodriguez’ know that retaliation would produce only more grieving parents and families,” Jamison said.

The film also will be shown on the Al Jazeera English channel on Sept. 11 and will also be live streamed on the station’s website, Jamison said.

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