2005 Architects of Peace Award Citation for Marla Ruzicka
Comments delivered by Ethics Center Executive Director
Kirk O. Hanson at the Award Ceremony June 25, 2005.
Marla Ruzicka, a 29 year old American, was killed in a roadside
bomb blast in Baghdad earlier this year. Marla - and her
work -- inspire us for so many reasons - for her commitment
to the innocent victims of war, for her search for positive
ways to engage in peace making, for her cheerfulness --
and for her persistence.
Marla grew up in sunny California and attended schools
here. After attending Long Island University's Friends World
program, she sought ways to challenge the conventional wisdom
that held countries in conflict with one another. She traveled
to Cuba, to Palestine, to East and South Africa. She worked
for Global Exchange, a San Francisco based human rights
organization known for its confrontational approach. She
traveled to Afghanistan immediately after the fall of the
Taliban and there found her calling in a focus on the plight
of the innocent victims of war.
In Afghanistan she successfully worked with military commanders
who often had funds for emergency assistance to victims.
After the start of the war in Iraq, she recruited 150 volunteers
who went to hospitals and into towns to produce the first
comprehensive list of people killed or injured in Iraq.
Her organization Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict
(CIVIC) continues her work.
Working with Sen. Patrick Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, she
got language into an appropriations bill that eventually
provided $7.5 million for aid to victims in Afghanistan,
and $10 million for Iraq to rebuild homes and schools, provide
medical assistance and make loans. More appropriations are
in the works. Leahy said before her death that "Marla
is one of those unique people who combines unlimited energy,
fearlessness, intellect, a bit of craziness and a determination
to help people who have suffered terrible losses half a
Marla turned her anguish over war into an overpowering
impetus for alleviating the suffering of the innocent victims
of war. She learned to work productively with the military
and to lobby officials like Secretary of Defense Donald
Rumsfeld - respectfully but very persistently. She became
a very effective advocate for the victims of war - and therefore
for peace. We salute her character, her work, and her memory.
Honoring Marla takes nothing away from acknowledging the
pain - and sacrifice - of over 1600 Americans and their
families -- those military sons and daughters have lost
their lives in Iraq. War touches all - those who fight at
the direction of their governments, the civilians who have
died in untold numbers, and individuals like Marla who have
worked so tirelessly to bring humanity and peace in the
midst of conflict.