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DePauw Community Reflects, Prays and Unites at Candlelight Vigil

DePauw Community Reflects, Prays and Unites at Candlelight Vigil

September 11, 2001

September 11, 2001, Greencastle, Ind. - For the third time on this solemn day, DePauw University students, faculty and staff and members of the Greencastle community came together to remember the victims of Tuesday's terrorist attacks, and to try to begin to answer a seemingly impossible question, "Why?" Earlier in the day, hundreds of people held hands and formed a prayer circle on East College lawn (read the story and see the pictures here; one photo from the earlier event is seen ta the bottom of this story). Later, people gathered to pray and hear the DePauw University Band perform Elegy for a Young American. As night fell on the DePauw campus, a thousand people or more made their way to Bowman Pond to light candles, sing, reflect and find spiritual comfort at the end of a devastating day.

Video Link [DOWNLOAD VIDEO: "Why We Gather" 547KB] Audio Link[DOWNLOAD AUDIO: "Why We Gather" 258KB] "We gather this evening because the reality of this day is too painful to face alone," offered dean of the chapel Wes Allen at the beginning of the vigil.. "We gather this evening because we refuse to let violence be the only voice heard this day. We gather this evening to express hope for tomorrow, in the midst of the despair of today. In a word, we gather this evening to pray."

Sister Jennifer Horner of St. Paul Catholic Church in Greencastle said that when she arrived about a half hour before the vigil, Video Link [DOWNLOAD VIDEO: "FLUTE" 698KB] Audio Link[DOWNLOAD AUDIO: "FLUTE" 244KB] by flautist Nancy Wegerson of DePauw's International Center.

Video Link [DOWNLOAD VIDEO: "SHAPE LIVES" 353KB] Audio Link[DOWNLOAD AUDIO: "SHAPE LIVES" 168KB] "Certainly, today's events are among the most tragic in our lifetime," DePauw University President Robert G. Bottoms told the gathering. "Through the televisions that we have watched this day, we have witnessed an event that will shape our lives for years to come." "On a day such as this, he noted, one realizes there is much evil in the world. Even though the horrible events of the day took place many miles away from the Greencastle campus, Dr. Bottoms says students will play a role in shaping the world's response to the crisis Audio Link[DOWNLOAD AUDIO: "INSTRUMENTS OF PEACE" 175KB] ”I trust that we covenant that while we as students and faculty and citizens in a small town in Indiana may not be able to impact world terrorism directly, that we can still impact others around us, people in relationships with us, so that we might become instruments of peace and mutual understanding."

University Rabbi Buz Bogage stressed that this is a time for people to reaffirm the importance of their relationships. Audio Link[DOWNLOAD AUDIO: "OUR CLOSENESS" 227KB] "I have four children, on the four corners of this country," Bogage said. "Although they are far away from the City of New York, they all took the time to call me and speak to me on this day. There's something about the closeness that we feel as families; there's something about the closeness we feel with each other."

Anas Malik, the adviser to DePauw's Muslim Student Association, condemned the terrorist attacks Audio Link[DOWNLOAD AUDIO: "RESPECT AND TOLERANCE" 297KB] and said, "We must all be sensitive to the high emotions this tragedy has generated. We must also be vigilant of people who will jump to conclusions or take advantage of this stressful time to take out their frustrations and express their prejudices against others." Stressing that Muslim Americans were subjected to persecution after the Oklahoma City bombing, Malik said, "let this time of suffering and shock be remembered as a testament to our finest shared values: the noble values of respect, tolerance and good presumptions for all."

The large crowd, which stretched from near the entrance to the Performing Arts Center well beyond the western edge of the Union Building and was several lines deep, joined in three verses of Video Link [DOWNLOAD VIDEO: "WE SHALL OVERCOME" 1028KB] Audio Link[DOWNLOAD AUDIO: "We Shall Overcome" 251KB] We Shall Overcome before Reverend Allen offered a final message. "You may notice that our candles are burning -- down to the wicks... we are running out of candlelight in the midst of this darkness. What that means to me is that it is our calling to become light in a world of pain and destruction a light of hope, a light of peace, a light of justice with mercy."

The evening ended with a minute of silence for the victims of Tuesday's attacks, and their families and loved ones. Seven DePauw students are interning in New York City, with another two in Washington, D.C. All are reported safe this evening.