The Orange County Board of Commissioners organized the Orange County Ceremony of Remembrance, held on East Margaret Lane in Hillsborough.
Orange County Commissioner Moses Carey touted the candlelight vigil as an opportunity to reflect.
"I think it is appropriate for all officials and citizens to take time off to recover," he said.
Commissioner Stephen Halkiotis said the vigil's success was not determined by its turnout. "If we have five people, I feel that's a service we have met," Halkiotis said.
David Snyder, of the Orange County Red Cross, stressed the organization's need for ongoing support in dealing with the crisis. "(There will be a) continuing need (for blood donations) over the next couple of weeks at least," he said.
Diane Ellis, executive director of the Orange County Red Cross, added that the county's chapter presently has the most volunteers of any county in the state. The chapter has seven volunteers at the sites of the disasters, three in New York and four in Washington, D.C.
The ceremony was held under a clear evening sky, while a flock of geese flew overhead in unity, capturing the spirit of the event.
Halkiotis presided over the ceremony, emphasizing the far-reaching effects of the tragedies. "Everyone in America, including everyone in Orange County, has been or will be affected," Halkiotis said.
The Sheriff's Department Honor Guard followed Halkiotis by carrying in the flags of the United States and North Carolina.
Six members of the Orange High School Band then accompanied the singing of the "Star Spangled Banner," followed by speeches from town officials.
Afterward, Jackie Payne, an Orange High School senior spoke about last Tuesday and how it not only affected her day at school, but her life as well.
She described her classmates' reactions on the day of the event. "They had expressions of shock, sympathy, confusion and pure fright," Payne said.
As residents began to light their candles, Orange County poet Jaki Shelton-Green spoke, delivering a message of unity in the face of tragedy. "Let us now begin to spread and embrace the promise of hope," she said.
The vigil ended with a rendition of "America the Beautiful," as community members filtered back to their homes and lives. But their thoughts remained with the victims honored by the ceremony.
After the vigil, Delta White, a resident of Chapel Hill, expressed a common feeling about Tuesday's tragedies. "I still feel numb," she said. It's the worst thing that's ever happened. I look at it and I cry. I can't help it.
"My heart goes out to all those people."
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