The University Record, September 17, 2001

Community gathers to share grief, create hope and unity

By Martin May and Noel Rozny

An estimated 15,000 members of the University community filled the Diag on the evening of Sept. 11 to promote unity and peace. The crowd stretched from the Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library to the flagpole at the north end of the Diag and from Angell Hall to the Randall Laboratory. Participants of the quickly arranged vigil collectively expressed shock, grief and anger.

The crowd listened attentively and quietly as University and community leaders spoke from the library steps. The speakers stressed the important role that community and unity play in the healing process and urged listeners to reach out to each other.

“We are deeply proud of our diverse and multicultural community. We stand together in our grief and concern,” said Lisa Tedesco, interim provost and vice president and secretary of the University. Royster Harper, vice president for student affairs, reminded gatherers of the support system of peers and advisers, “I hope you will lean on each other, and lean on the faculty and staff.”

Sherman Jackson, associate professor of Near Eastern Studies, said, “We must begin to dig deep down for strength, courage and compassion in order to make tomorrow a better world. In Islam, there is no justification for the wanton killing of human life,” he said.

“I came out tonight to show respect for the victims; I am still in shock,” said LS&A student Paul Park.

Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje said the turnout shows how members of the community care for one another. He went on to say that we should start thinking about the changes that will happen in our lives as a result of these tragedies.

Religious leaders, representing a number of faiths and denominations, then addressed the vigil. “We are united in our sorrow,” said Rev. Matthew Lawrence, chaplain of the Episcopal Canterbury House in Ann Arbor. “Let us dedicate ourselves to let love rule our hearts.”

Father Tom Firestone of St. Mary’s Student Parish; Michael Brooks, executive director of Hillel; Dawn Roginski of Lord of Light Lutheren Church; and Greg Epstein, co-chair of the Campus Religion Network also spoke. They urged students to embrace a position of peace and tolerance.

The gathering then made its way in a candle-lit procession to the Michigan Union. Some participants remained on the Diag and rallied around U.S. flags singing “God Bless America.”