Tree serves as symbol of peace after tragedy

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – The violence in Iraq is resonating with Buffalo’s tight-knit Iraqi American community, which gathered Monday night to honor a young murder victim.

Organizers hope a memorial tree planted for 13-year-old murder victim Ameer Al Shammari can serve as a symbol of peace, not just for the boy, but for children everywhere. You could see the pain in Ameer’s family’s eyes, who are still hurting from their own loss and also thinking about children back in their country and around the world who continue to suffer.

Family, local officials and Ameer’s friends took part in the emotional ceremony, orchestrated by the Iraqi American Society. Ameer’s family fled war-torn Iraq in search of a better life in the United States.

Investigators believe Ameer was attacked by another 13-year-old boy when Ameer confronted him over his stolen cell phone. Ameer’s family couldn’t help but think of their son as well as the children around the world and what they left behind.

Iraqi American Society Ali Kathum said, “It’s a good moment to remember, as a refugee we came to this country. We know there are a lot of things going on for our kids around the world, in the Middle East, Iraq, Syria, Africa, so we said, we are not only losing one child everyday, we have a lot of children. Let’s take a moment to celebrate not only Ameer but all the children around the world who are suffering.”

The tree was planted in the YWCA garden on Grant Street. The hope is the tree will remind people of the tragedy and prevent another one like this in the future.

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