POSTED SEPT. 28 AT 5:20 P.M.
The main floor of the University Center looked and sounded like it
usually does, with students studying and conversing as ESPN played on the plasma TVs in the background. On this night, however, most of the sectional
sofas were filled by students and pushed together into six rows, all
facing a stage set up next to a projection screen with another stage on the side.
The date was Sept. 11, 2007, and six years ago about 3,000 victims
lost their lives when terrorists crashed three jetliners into the
World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington,
D.C., as well as a fourth thwarted attempt that crashed in a
Shanksville, Pa., field.
The Division of Student Affairs organized and coordinated a
candlelight vigil for students in remembrance of one of the darkest
events in American history since 2002.
The introduction was given by Whitney Bloom, a graduate assistant for Student Life. She attended the first vigil in 2002 that took place at the Wellness Center as a student, as well as the next three in the years afterwards.
After Pastor Steve DeBardelaben, the university chaplain for Athletes in Action, delivered the opening prayer, Bloom approached the podium once more to introduce Danny Carvajal, President of Student Government.
The room was silent apart from the speakers and the whirring of the air conditioner, and those passing through the University Center hushed their conversations as they entered and left.
“I remember, I was in 11th grade, in class, getting information on my
beeper and everyone surrounding me [asking], ‘What is going on?’,”
said Kristine Acevedo, a senior from New York who attended the vigil. “People were really anxious and nervous. You couldn’t get through on the cell phone, you didn’t know where your parents were or your friends’ parents.”
Several students were fortunate enough not to have lost any loved ones on Sept. 11, but still attended the vigil to show their support.
“I still feel like I should do something, even though it’s six years later,” said sophomore Colleen Dourney, whose father is from New York City.
The centerpiece of the vigil was a video presentation entitled “A
Tribute to Sept. 11.” The whole room went dark, apart from
a light at the Information Desk that illuminated a cloth Flag of Honor covering the center part of the wall. On the red stripes of the flag,written in small white letters, were the names of all the innocents lost on 9/11.
As the video played, all of the memories returned. Still photos and video of the towers on fire, people fleeing tidal waves of soot and smoke, debris falling, the towers collapsing, firefighters climbing, the hole in the side of the Pentagon, along with images from the following days.
“It’s something that you can’t forget, you’ll always remember it,”
Rene Basulto may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org