The University of Indianapolis Registered Student Organization Interfaith hosted a 9/11 Vigil to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks on Sunday, Sept. 11. To begin the vigil, the Greenwood Honor Guard presented the American and Indiana flags while student musicians Greg Benham, Sadie Layman, Ty Helms and Olivia Jongkind played the national anthem on trumpets.
Three faculty members, Kyoko Amano, Michelle Meer and Lang Brownlee reflected on their memories of 9/11, describing where they were and what they were doing when the terrorist attack occurred. Each of these professors described his or her disbelief as the events unfolded, while remembering the reaction and response in their immediate community.
Following the faculty, members of Interfaith read prayers and sacred texts in memoriam of the terrorist event and in support of moving forward in peace and unison. Each member of Interfaith who spoke represented a different religion and culture and shared sacred texts from his or her religion. There was representation for the Indian Student Association, Catholic Student Association, CRU, an evangelical Christian organization, Anglicanism, Judaism and the Muslim Student Union. These readings focused on how we should respond to events such as 9/11, not in fear of the differences between people, but instead uniting together to spread peace.
“Our goal—since interfaith is kind of a touchy subject for some people—is to bridge people together according to shared common values,” said sophomore applied psychology and religion major Natalie Benson. “So no matter what religious tradition people come from on campus, everybody here is in America right now, practicing patriotism and honoring the tragedy of 9/11 as a whole. So that’s their common value and we’re bringing together religions based on that one center point.”
Sophomore exercise science major Brianna Myers felt that the vigil brought together many different cultures and faiths to remember 9/11.
“I felt like it really was a symbol of bringing people together,” Myers said. “Especially having representatives from different cultures and groups come up, because sometimes people get in the stereotypical mindset that because we are not all the same, we think differently. And I think that really showed that that is not the case.”
There was a litany remembering the 2,996 people who died on 9/11 of which 411 were emergency workers who responded to the scenes. Interfaith members took turns describing those who had passed in the tragedy, those who worked together in order to survive and those who still live today 15 years after 9/11 took place.
In every seat was a candle, which the audience lit while a song of peace was played. After the last candle was lit, there was a long moment of silence to reflect on the event and the lives lost.
The end of the event focused on going forward into life less fearful of differences in people and their backgrounds, but instead being open to learning and uniting with these people.
“I think it starts small,” Benson said “So even if you’re not outwardly acting in ways of peace and inviting new people to come into your community that you aren’t used to, just having a mindset of peace and embracing differences and acknowledging—because like I said we all have biases and fears towards differences—but acknowledging that they [the differences] are there but trying to move past them.”