The Johns Hopkins Gazette: September 17, 2001
September 17, 2001
VOL. 31, NO. 3


Tearful Vigil Unites a Diverse Campus

Johns Hopkins Gazette Online Edition

They gathered in the growing darkness on Homewood's upper quadrangle as the sun set Thursday night, several hundred Hopkins faculty, students and staff. They were clearly from many different races--black, white, Asian, Middle Eastern--and from many different religions--Jew, Muslim, Christian, Hindu--but all had gathered together as one community to mourn, to remember and to pray.

At the memorial vigil for victims of the terrorist attack, many students were visibly shaken by the traumatic experiences of the week.

They mourned the thousands of innocent lives senselessly lost in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on Tuesday, Sept. 11.

"The full impact of Tuesday's events will take weeks, months or perhaps even years to comprehend," said President William R. Brody, who noted that he was already aware of several immediate relatives of students who were missing in the disasters, and that an Applied Physics Laboratory employee, Ron Vauk, was missing and presumed dead at the Pentagon.

They remembered the traditions of diversity and tolerance that make their nation great.

"We ... need to be mindful that the acts of the few do not characterize the beliefs of the many," Brody said. "Whether the attackers be Christian, Muslim, some other religion, even atheists, they cannot speak for the great majority of their fellow religious followers any more than Timothy McVeigh, an American terrorist, should have been considered representative of the majority of American Christians."

They prayed for the hope and the courage they needed to move forward.

"May we offer the power of our sorrow to the service of something greater than ourselves," said Sharon Kugler, university chaplain. "We must understand that acts of terror are not religious acts ... . They are shameless acts of evil and ignorance."

Kugler called the attention of those present at the ceremony to the flowers they had received as they came into the upper quadrangle. The flowers were symbols of the miracle and sanctity of life.

After Thursday night's memorial vigil, students and others place flowers in a line beneath the podium where President Brody and Chaplain Kugler spoke, urging tolerance.

"We are our brothers' and sisters' keepers. This is all God has ever, ever asked of us," Kugler said. "I invite you now to spend the next few moments in silent prayer, reflecting upon those whose lives were lost and upon what remains to be done by each of us left behind."

There was silence on the quadrangle then, save for the wail of distant sirens and the roar of a faraway jet engine. And in a few minutes, those sounds faded in the lifted voices of the JHU Gospel Choir.
--Michael Purdy

Go to Terrorist Acts Send Shock Waves Through JHU
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