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The Daily Tar Heel

Students gather to remember Sept. 11’s toll

Twins in red: Left: Lauren Salvia, soph., PoliSci & Comm Major. Right (scarf): Megan Salvia, soph., Business & Comm Major. Lauren says it's important to make note of what happened and show our campus unity. Vertical shot of boy in blue and girl in tyedye (sp?): Boy: Jo Saberniak, Physics & Dram. Art Major. Girl: Paige Holmes, soph., Psych & Comm Major. Jo says that all stories deserve to be heard. Paige says 9/11, even though it was ten years ago, still needs to be remembered. (paraphrase)

A heavy silence hung over the Pit Sunday night as students and administrators paused to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

Peering through the hazy glow of candlelight, students listened to the harrowing stories of their classmates as they recalled the events that warped an ordinary Tuesday one decade ago.

Senior James Ding spoke of his father, who has been wracked by survivor’s guilt since Sept. 11. Ding’s father worked for the insurance company Marsh and McLennan on the 96th floor of the World Trade Center.

“Not a single person who was at work that morning made it out,” Ding said.

“My dad was not in the tower because he was taking me to my second day of fifth grade. I’d like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to my dad’s colleagues.”

The ripples of 9/11 and the fear it provoked were felt beyond the United States’ borders. From a Korean international student to a senior who had recently immigrated to the U.S. from Zimbabwe, students’ stories illustrated the worldwide echoes of the attack.

Senior Josh Ford, who lived in upstate New York that year, recalled asking his mother why firefighters were running toward the burning buildings.

“I’ll never forget what she said,” Ford said. “She said, ‘Joshua, they’re showing the world what America is about.’”

“It didn’t matter the color of your skin … or who you prayed to,” he said. “On display for the entire world was American spirit.”

Terri Houston, interim associate provost for diversity and multicultural affairs, said she recalls the immediate sense of unity that swept through campus in the aftermath of the towers crumbling.

“No one was asking questions,” she said. “We were simply doing what we needed to do to support each other as a Carolina family.”

Houston remembered watching TV and not being able to tell the ethnicities of those covered in the dust and debris of the fallen towers.

“But that didn’t matter because they shared in a common tragedy,” she said.

“9/11 should remind us that we should never forget, but also that we have an obligation, an opportunity and a privilege to do something to make a difference in this world.”

Houston concluded the ceremony by singing “What a Wonderful World.” A ringing silence greeted the final refrains of the song as students clutched their candles and reflected on the lives lost on Sept. 11.

Sunday’s vigil was organized by the Black Student Movement, student government, the Carolina Union Activities Board, the Mu Zeta Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha and Carolina United.

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