9/11 vigil offers hope and remembrance

On the third anniversary of the Sept. 11 tragedy, students gathered at the Rock to remember those who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks and look to the future with hope and optimism.

“It’s important to do this,” says Steve Priepke, graduate assistant of Student Affairs, who helped with the vigil. “We hope to offer hope and inspiration instead of stirring bad emotions. For the students that go, it’s been a bonding experience.”

Ashley Box and Andrew Kloster, organizers of the event, concur.

“We are here together,” Box said. “We must go forward, trying to value humanity in its highest respect.” The vigil commenced with the Air Force ROTC’s 155 Detachment presenting the colors, and continued with a series of speeches, including testimonial from a New York firefighter who survived the attacks. The lighting of candles and invocation by Associate Chaplain Kerry Kieler-Guerra followed, and Phi Mu Alpha brothers concluded the night by singing “America the Beautiful.”

The organizers were well aware that 2004 is an election year, but didn’t let politics encroach upon the spirit of the vigil.

“Both parties can agree that 9/11 was horrible,” Box says. “9/11 was non-partisan, so the remembrance should be non-partisan.”

“I believe [9/11] has made many people look inward,” says Kieler-Guerra, who was impressed with the turnout. “It’s wonderful that students would organize this – I was honored to be here and participate.”

“Turnout was great. It’s wonderful that the students took time off on a Saturday night to attend,” Kloster says.

Those in the audience, including Provost Luis Glaser, seemed equally touched by the event.

“9/11 was a tragedy, but also something else -it unified the country,” Glaser said. “I’m very proud of the students who organized this. I don’t think we should ever forget this, and I don’t think we ever will.”

The vigil comes on the heels of a discussion panel hosted by the School of Communication and co-sponsored by the Council for Democracy. The panel will explore terrorism and its implications Sept. 16, in the Cosford Cinema at 1:30 pm.

Jay Rooney can be contacted at j.rooney@umiami.edu.