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UNC Expresses Grief, Hope Through Art

The centerpiece of the tribute was an eight-foot black wall meant to serve as a memorial for the victims of last week's terrorist attacks.

Between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m., nearly 500 members of the campus community were invited to add their words, prayers and handprints to the wall, set up on Polk Place. Amid trumpet blasts, inspirational songs, poems and heartfelt weeping, the tribute turned into a bright yet somber exhibition of hope and prayer. Even those who did not contribute directly were touched and watched from afar.

Arts Carolina, the program that organized the construction of the wall and performances around it, strove to capture everyone's fear, grief, pain and, most importantly, hope. "I feel that at times like this it is important for everyone to come together to mourn," said Amy Brannock, director of Arts Carolina. "Arts are an extremely powerful way to express feelings of loss, shock or hope, and this was our way of giving students that opportunity."

Students walking between classes were hypnotized, fascinated as groups wept and consoled, finding a feeling of unity and pride in the wall.

"This (wall) represents everything that the terrorist sought to take from us: freedom of speech, freedom of expression," said Jared Sokolsky, a freshman business major who stood at a distance, silently observing.

The event began with a collection of speeches from members of UNC's arts community. Ray Dooley, chairman of the Department of Dramatic Art, spoke on the group's behalf and encouraged all observers to hang a hollow dove stuffed with sentimental words on the wall. Students also could write letters to the families, survivors or rescue workers affected by the attacks.

At 8:45, 9:03, 9:43 and 10:10 a.m. -- the moments when each of the four hijacked airplanes crashed Sept. 11 -- a bell was rung. A heavy silence followed.

Throughout the rest of the morning, members of public were invited to pick up the microphone to publicly profess their pain. Erica Williams, a freshman political science major, took the invitation and performed a poem titled "Sankota," which she wrote Friday after reflecting on the events of last week.

"This was a wonderful idea that brought the entire campus together," Williams said. "Tragedies like this are horrific but can be worse if we don't learn something from them and come together as a nation."

After hundreds of people came to pay their respects, the tribute was ushered out with a rousing, hopeful song and a wave of tears and emotion, during which even some of the event's coordinators broke down. "After watching everyone come by throughout the day, the whole situation hit me and I realized how important it was for everyone to come together," Brannock said. "It has been a very powerful day for a lot of people, me included."

The Arts & Entertainment Editor can be reached at

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