America may never completely get over the effects of Sept. 11. The heartache, the shock and surprise upset a whole country. Two years later there are different groups with different Sept. 11 commemorative events to help University students deal with the loss and pain of that fateful day.
Young Americans for Freedom, a conservative group on campus, rallied yesterday afternoon carrying homemade posters in the Diag with flags, commemorating the events of Sept. 11.
About 20 YAF members participated in the event. YAF Co-chairman Bobby Raham said the group held the rally not only to mourn those lives lost on Sept. 11 but also “to remember to support troops that remain in Afghanistan and Iraq.”
Following the singing of the National Anthem, the rally progressed to personal recollections of the events that occurred on Sept. 11.
“Everybody in Ann Arbor felt pain that day. At the rally, everybody was supporting each other. This showed the good side of the school (and) the city – that’s what I’ll always remember,” Ann Arbor resident Patrick Mendis said.
YAF member Slava Goldstein said he remembers accurately where he was two years ago yesterday.
“When the first plane hit I was in bed. When the second plane hit, I was in the shower. When I got to Angel Hall, there was a horde of people gathered around a TV screen. In a big, jolly voice I asked ‘What is all the commotion about?’ People were ready to punch me for that statement,” Goldstein, an LSA senior said, adding that once he realized the significance of the events, he was somber.
This was not the first rally YAF held in accordance to the events of Sept. 11. Hours after the attacks on Sept. 11, YAF State Chairman Doug Teitz said YAF initiated a rally on the Diag. “People from around the University joined in – in solidarity. People were shocked and wanted to show support for America,” he said.
But only a couple years later, Teitz said that many people on campus have forgotten what happened.
“The campus has reverted to its liberal ways and continues to view America as the great evil in the world,” said YAF Co-Chair Laura Davis.
Teitz added that the greater population has also forgotten who remain enemies to America as well as the country’s way of life. “Many people have already forgotten (that) there are still soldiers in the field and that enemies of yesterday are still enemies of today. On some degree, the University has gone back to an apathetic state,” he said.
As one of multiple events taking place in remembrance of Sept. 11, Davis said that YAF differentiates itself from the vigil sponsored by the Michigan Student Assembly in its concern with patriotism.
Raham said his primary concern with last night’s vigil was its lack of the American flag being prominently displayed by a color guard during the vigil. Instead he instructed members of YAF to arrive early and bring flags.
But Ann Arbor Area Committee co-coordinator and Interfaith Council member Chuck Warpehoski said that the vigil his group held last night celebrated the idea of peace and brotherhood.
Their Sept. 11 evening peace vigil began with a circle of silence for the events that occurred. The silence continued for 45 minutes and ended only with the sound of the gong. AAAC Coordinator Phillis Engelbert said that the vigil and organization are aimed at “calling for peaceful resolutions rather than the endless war on terror.”
Warpehoski said that although there is a lot of grief associated with Sept. 11, he said he feels the vigil can capture the ideal of future peace for the world.
“The vigil is a chance for Sept. 11th families who lost loved ones to come together and not only mourn their family members, but also to envision a more peaceful world,” Warpehoski said.
Unlike the AAAC’s vigil last year, Jewish residents worked collaboratively with Muslims to organize the event. Last year, the vigil was planned exclusively by Muslims – with no interfaith collaboration.
Warpehoski said they hope that this show of interfaith unity to support the vigil will “provide a model for other communities across the nation.”
He added that one central hope of the organization is that Sept. 11 will never occur again, and with that there, will be no more victims of terror in the United States or in any other parts of the world.