About 500 students, faculty and staff members held a solemn candlelight vigil on the quad Sept. 11 in a ceremony commemorating the fifth anniversary of the terrorist attacks against the United States and remembering family members who were killed that day.
Jessica Waring, a sophomore from Queens, N.Y., spoke about her father James Waring, who worked on the 101st floor of the North Tower of the World Trade Center as the head of security for Cantor Fitzgerald. He was among the 2,973 people killed on Sept. 11, 2001, when terrorists hijacked four aircrafts and crashed two into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in Manhattan, one into the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. and one into a field in Shanksville, Penn.
“My purpose in standing here today is to let you know that you should always let the people you love know you love them,” Waring said, her voice overflowing with emotion. “Jimmy Waring was a proud and loving husband and father.”
David Ives, executive director of the Albert Schweitzer Institute, told the crowd that 43 percent of respondents in a recent news poll said they wish revenge against the perpetrators of the attacks. He acknowledged his own initial desire for vengeance in the immediate aftermath of the terror attacks.
“It doesn’t take much for me to go back to that day and to remember the outrage I felt that someone could attack and kill so many innocent people,” he said.
Yet, Ives no longer seeks such revenge, he said. Rather, he is forgiving and hopes other Americans are able to forgive the perpetrators, too.
“Nelson Mandela and [Mahatma] Gandhi teach us to forgive. They forgave the people who committed great wrongs against them, while still holding the perpetrators responsible,” he said.
Citing the life-long humanitarian work of Albert Schweitzer, Ives further urged people to “seek the common good,” which can range from helping a person cross the street to doing community service projects, he said.
Kathleen McCourt, senior vice president of academic affairs, told the crowd to strive to foster a world characterized by justice, compassion and vigilance.
“We must pledge as a community to make the world a better place so that horrors like 9/11, once again, become unimaginable,” she said.
Karen Sloan, a Presbyterian minister affiliated with the university through Campus Ministry, lived in California when the attacks happened five years ago. She remembered the actions of her friend, Mark Bingham, who was among a group of passengers on United Airlines Flight 93 who fought against their hijackers. All of the Flight 93 passengers were killed when the airplane crashed into a field in rural Shanksville, Penn.
“I am thankful to Mark Bingham, that he loved people so much, that he didn’t let his plane get hijacked,” Sloan said. “That day was very sad and yet there were examples of tremendous acts of love. And so, I encourage you all to think about how you can show acts of love.”
Tyrone Black, the director of Multicultural Affairs and the director of Gospel Choir, read Maya Angelou’s poem “Equality.” In a forceful tone, Black proclaimed: “The Lord is my light and my salvation. Whom shall I fear?”
Then Black led the Gospel Choir, whose 20 members spiritedly sang “Open the Windows of Heaven” and “Omnipotent.” Then, he invited everyone to join the choir in singing “God Bless America,” as friends gathered in small groups on the quad and cried and hugged each other while holding the lit candles.