Candelight vigil at Southeast honors victims of 9-11 terrorism

Friday, September 12, 2003

They appeared gradually, like the stars at dusk.

Some drifted across the sidewalks and lawns, others sparked to life in clusters. Within a span of minutes, more than 100 points of candlelight were floating around the fountain at Kent Library on the campus of Southeast Missouri State University.

The vigil and unity procession Thursday night was organized by the Student Activities Council to honor the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and near Shanksville, Pa.

"Every time I see airplanes, it makes me think of it," said junior Christa Pyatt.

Members of Phi Mu Alpha, a music fraternity, played and sang patriotic songs and spiritual hymns as the group grew larger.

Most of the nearly 150 attendees were women. The mood was at first social, with candles lighting the faces of smiling students who chatted on the steps outside the library.

Once the program began, all grew quiet and turned to stand facing the program speakers, who talked about the importance of remembering the sacrifices made on Sept. 11 and how to look to the future with hope and courage. They put their arms around one another and rested their heads on each others' shoulders, looking for comfort while hearing about the deadliest act of terrorism on American soil.

A moment of silent prayer and a group prayer closed the event.

Freshman Bradley Jones came after hearing about the event from a professor, he said.

"I think it's important to everyone to show support for our country," he said. "It's nice that everyone still cares about something that's still fairly recent, and yet at the same time, seems like it happened so long ago."

The event was organized with only a week to spread the word, said Junior Julie Wooldridge, a member of the Student Activities Council. Still, it was a success, she said.

"It's really great," she said looking at the crowd. "We weren't sure how many people would come, especially since it happened two years ago."

mwells@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 160

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