Interfaith unifies students in remembering 9/11 Attacks

18 years ago, 2,996 people died in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. Yesterday, the Registered Student Organization Interfaith hosted their annual peace vigil uniting University of Indianapolis students on Smith Mall as they remembered the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. The Greenwood Honor Guard began the vigil by presentation of the colors followed by an acapella performance of the “The Star Spangled Banner.”

Students were guided through prayers of unity spoken by guest speakers Tiwin Chackochan, Sofia Skillman, Hans Myers, Zeel Dholaria, Ty Johnson and Jaskirat Kaur from perspectives that included Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Protestant, Hindu, Non-Religious and Sikh. 

Junior nursing student and Interfaith Scholar Zeel Dholaria spoke during the vigil from the Hindu perspective.

Dholaria said that growing up in a strict Hindu family came with a lot of talking about the history of India and Hindu religion. According to Dholaria, being able to talk about her religious background and come together with so many different religions to remember 9/11 is very important.

President Robert Manuel was 18 blocks away from the World Trade Center during the time of the attacks at the office building where he worked at the time, he said during the vigil. He was full of joy as he took his daughter to her first day of daycare that morning while his wife went to work, he said.  When the first plane struck the World Trade Center he said he was in shock. When he realized what had happened, all he could do was find a way to help and to serve the people who were not as fortunate as he was.

“…18 years later, I need this day to help me remember… Soon this day will be remembered in fact more than in emotion, but it is our job to help the people who do not know the emotion of this day remember.”

Senior chemistry major and Interfaith scholar Neira Usto organized the peace vigil and said that she has received positive feedback from students and staff who attend the event.

Photo by Macy Judd The color guard held flags before presenting the colors.

“Honestly, I think it’s important to everyone, especially for Pres. Rob because of his story and his background and I think that he loves that we’re doing this annually,” Usto said. “It’s not something that we have to do as an interfaith group, but it’s definitely something that we want to do because of that aspect.”

Usto said that as a member of Interfaith, her goal is to create a healthy campus community and make sure that everyone is welcomed and celebrates peace rather than hatred.

“We can bring together all these different faith traditions and have this common ground…Everyone’s doing their part and it makes you see the good in people,” Usto said. “You can be from a different background, from different religions and still be a hard worker and still be determined. I think that these are characteristics that UIndy students have in general.”

The vigil featured the “We Remember” litany as students mourned the loss of the people who died during the 9/11 attacks. Students also participated in a candle lighting ceremony and a moment of silence before the colors were removed.

Photo by Macy Judd With Taps playing, the color guard saluted the flags and waited for the vigil to end in order to retire the flags. Students in the audience held lit candles and stood alongside the color guard.

President Manuel concluded his personal recounting of the events of Sept. 11, 2001 by saying that as students–and as a people–we all have to focus on each other and remember this day.

“9/11 lives in cycles for me. For the first few months I lived that day every day,” Manuel said. “After about six months I remembered that day every month. 18 years later, I need this day to help me remember… Soon this day will be remembered in fact more than in emotion, but it is our job to help the people who do not know the emotion of this day remember.”


Cover Photo by Macy Judd