Candlelight vigil at SEMO remembers terror victims

Thursday, September 12, 2002

By Mark Bliss ~ Southeast Missourian

In the glow of candlelight Wednesday night, about 500 Southeast Missouri State University students -- most of them from campus residence halls -- prayed and remembered the victims of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.

The candlelight vigil began at the Kala Stroup Fountain just before 9 p.m. and lasted about 20 minutes. The Rev. Bob Towner, an adjunct faculty member in the department of philosophy and religion, led the vigil, which included spiritual and patriotic music on flutes and a cello by three members of the music department.

Students started gathering at the fountain an hour before the ceremony. Members of Southeast Missouri State University's Student Activities Council handed out white candles.

Holding lighted candles, they sat quietly or talked softly with friends as members of the Phi Mu Alpha music fraternity performed and sang patriotic music. During the vigil, the randomly selected names of 200 of the victims were read.

Amanda Kuergeleis, a sophomore from Columbia, Ill., said she showed up to remember the thousands of people who died last year in terrorist attacks on America.

"I think it is more of a time to reflect and think," she said.

Sarah Atchison, a senior from St. Louis, said it was important to remember the tragedy.

Atchison is a a member of the Student Activities Council, which helped organize the vigil. Southeast's Center for Health and Counseling and the Association of Campus Ministries sponsored the event.

"A lot of people lost their lives that day," she said. Terrorism is still with us, she said. "I think it is important to remember it is a battle we are constantly fighting," Atchison said.

John Henry Harris, a freshman from Cape Girardeau, came to pay tribute to those who died and remember the tragedy. "I'm an American. We all felt it," Harris said.

Ryan Kloeppel, a junior from Westphalia, Mo., said the ceremony also paid tribute to the heroic efforts of New York firefighters and others who responded to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11.

Kloeppel said the candlelight ceremony was fitting. "I think the candle is like the American spirit that burns inside each of us," he said.

Judy St. John, director of the Center for Health and Counseling, said the ceremony and others like it all across the nation brought Americans together. "I think there is a sense of unity," she said.

mbliss@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 123

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