“We as a nation need to offset the images and memories we have of dust, debris and fire and replace them with images such as that of praying in the soft light of flickering candles,” Dr. Steven Sapp, head of the religion department, said Wednesday.
Eight hundred members of the UM community attended a candlelight vigil that day to remember the victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks last year.
The service which included testimonials from students was originally planned for the University Green, but because of the possibility of rain was moved into the Wellness Center.
“The shape of the world. . . is a mess,” said speaker Reverend Delanore M. McIntosh. “But what we remember with resolve is that the horrible events of 9/11 will not shake our hopes, our dreams, our spirits.”
“Who we are as Americans is illustrated by the stories we tell about ourselves now and forever,” Sapp said. “The terrorists have forever altered our national story and how we as Americans tell it.
“As a nation we lost, among other things, our sense of invulnerability. . . the great national illusion of invisible shields that protect us is finally and irreparably shattered.”
During the event students were able to voice what they felt as a compilation of testimonials was read by various students who expressed what they did on the day of the attacks.
“We all wrote our own individual stories and we put them all together to read out during the event,” said co-host Cie Chapel.
Student speakers pointed out how 9/11 began like any other day and how they were having a hard time processing exactly what was happening at the time.
“That day caused me to face a major inner conflict,” said Minal, a Muslim student who recited her personal experiences to the audience.
“Through the combination of my faith and citizenship [I felt like] a walking contradiction. I never felt so displaced in my life.”
The event also included two performances by the Inspirational Concert Choir and the Lance Rhodes Band.
“I felt tingles running up my spine when the choir began to sing,” said Meredith Casteda, an attendant at the event. “They sounded like sweet angels that wrapped me up in their warm voices.”
After the student testimonials and reflective speeches by selected faculty members, the vigil ended with students receiving candles and proceeding to their respective residential colleges.
“This ceremony fully expressed the range of emotions felt on that fateful day and the procession was carried out in a civil and respectful fashion. I am sure many students needed this event,” said Julie Matar, a senior.