The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Saturday September 18th

Candlelight Vigil Marks End to Day of Mourning

Almost 1,000 people filled the steps and walkways around the Pit for the candlelight vigil sponsored by the Campus Y and student government. The 200 candles supplied for the event were diluted in the mass of people.

As the smell of burning wax filled the air, Liza Potter, co-president of the Campus Y, recalled how the campus had gathered together on Tuesday to follow the news of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

"Tonight we gather for a new reason -- to grieve," she said. "We will grieve as a gathering of people of many faiths."

The vigil opened with a moment of silence and consisted of prayers, words of comfort and performances from a wide array of religious and secular organizations. But the theme of the night was unity.

"Let us gather in the name of peace and set down our racial, political, ethnic and religious differences, because we are all human," said Shayerah Ilias, co-chairwoman of the Globe Committee of the Campus Y.

The speakers enumerated on everything from Tuesday's horrific events to the possibility of healing. "Look at this collective mass we are," said Erika Hewitt of the Unitarian Universalists. "All it takes is you showing up tonight to begin to rebuild all that has been destroyed."

Most of the speakers urged forgiveness for the perpetrators of the violence. "Nonviolence means not just not retaliating but seeking to embrace those who hurt us with love," said Scott O'Day, from Students for a Free Tibet.

Nouman Siddiqui, who spoke for the Muslim Student Association, emphasized that Muslims should not be the target of outrage.

"I ask that we not be led to hate," he said. "Fellow Muslims on this campus have felt uncomfortable, have been harassed. It is love that overcomes, and God is love." He sat down to the sound of applause.

After performances by the Achordants, a male a cappella group, and the UNC Gospel Choir, an open mic time was held for students to share their thoughts.

One man came forward and described a fight he had with his brother on Sunday. On Tuesday, his brother was 200 yards from the plane that crashed into the Pentagon. "My brother lays in the hospital now with a 30 percent chance of survival, and I never said I loved him," he said.

The vigil closed with participants and representatives from the diverse student groups joining hands and singing "We Shall Overcome."

Nina Poe, a co-chairwoman of the Globe Committee, emphasized that the vigil was about solidarity. She said, "Together we can show the world that united we stand stronger than divided."

The University Editor can be reached at udesk@unc.edu.

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