“We’re Americans; we don’t walk around terrified,” former Secretary of State Colin Powell said Sept. 12, 2001.On Sept. 11, 2005, four years after the horrific 2001 terrorist attacks in which 3000 innocent people were killed, the true reality came to light.
This year, to remember the victims of the Sept. 11 tragedies and their families, WCU staff and students gathered outside of Sykes for a candlelight vigil.
Joining the hundreds in attendance were three established members of the West Chester community: West Chester Mayor Richard Yoder, President Madeleine Adler and President of the Student Government Association Bradley Williams. Commencing the ceremonies and heading the evening’saffairs was SGA Vice-President Amy Rae. Rae introduced the first speaker, President Adler.
She spoke of the common bond all Americans share and presented a true story about a 90-year old diplomat who lived in the United States and gave 1000 Euros to the Hurricane Katrina relief effort. Dr. Adler explained that the diplomat’s donation was in appreciation for the American soldiers who liberated her and countless others from a concentration camp over 60 years ago.
“We owe each other compassion, understanding, and all of the tangible help we can provide,” said President Adler, referring to the recent disaster in the American South and the common bond that is shared amongst all Americans.
“People died, simply be-cause they were Americans,” said Mayor Yoder. “We experience it as a nation, and today we honor it as a nation,” he said. In his four and a half minute speech, Mayor Yoder told observers to celebrate their generosity. During his final remarks, he spoke of the courage of the 40 passengers aboard Flight 93 on Sept. 11. “I simply cannot fathom the courage of the forty passengers of Flight 93 who stopped the terrorists from using their plane as another weapon. How brave, how unbelievably noble,” he said.
Following a performance of “God Bless America” by the university band was a speech by SGA President Williams.
“Clearly the efforts of the students, faculty and staff of WCU is a testament to how special our bond is,” he said. He also spoke of Hurricane Katrina and the effects it has had on our country.
President Williams also offered some advice to those affected by the events of Sept.11. “Don’t look back in anger, don’t look forward in fear,” he said.
Later, the three speakers joined their candles and initiated the candlelight ceremony. Within moments, hundreds of flickering candles blanketed the steps in front of the student union. The evening’s program concluded with the band’s performance of “Bridge over Troubled Water.”
After the official ceremony, many students lingered by the flag-strung chain link fence along Rosedale Avenue. Staff and students shared the bond of the honor and respect they had for the heroes of that day and the sadness they felt for the heroes’ families.