A bitterly cold wind swept across the Diag Friday, snapping the
Spanish flag and extinguishing the flames of the red and yellow
candles laid out to commemorate the victims of a series of train
explosions in Spain last week.
More than 100 people gathered in a circle around the bronze
‘M’ to reflect on the terrorist bombings in Madrid on
Thursday, killing 200 people and injuring more than 1,500. Spanish
officials received a tip that al-Qaida planned the attacks.
Jordan Orley, an RC sophomore who spent Spring Break in Spain,
delivered a short speech in which he called for the world to unite
working to end such attacks.
“We are all here together because no matter what we feel
and where we come from, what unites us is our humanity,” he
said. “Today, through these acts of terror, the world becomes
a more connected place. The world must unify itself in condemning
these senseless acts of barbarism.”
Orley added that the victims of the terrorists include not only
those who were killed in Madrid, but people around the world.
“We must not forget that yesterday there was not one attack,
but two,” he said. “One attack was physical. That
attack occurred in the morning hours in three train stations in
central Madrid. The second attack that was unleashed yesterday was
heard not just throughout the city but throughout the world. That
attack is an assault on our freedom, on our sense of security, on
our way of life.”
Orley said that his distress over the tragedy in Madrid prompted
him to organize the vigil. He concluded his speech by encouraging
those present to keep a positive attitude and work together to end
“We must pick up the pieces. We should not allow ourselves
to indulge in self-pity and hopelessness. We do not want to live
our lives in fear. We do not want to hold vigils often, and we do
not want more days of our calendar associated with days of
LSA sophomore Lorea Barturen said the vigil provided a place of
solace for those affected by the attacks. “It was really
comforting to me to see members of the University community come
together and share their sorrow and comfort each other.”
Although Barturen was born in the United States, her parents are
both from the Basque area of Spain. Spanish officials originally
suspected Basque separatists of responsibility for the blasts.
A poster board with the messages of “No Al
Terrorismo” and “Paz Ahora” — which in
English mean “No to Terrorism” and “Peace
Now” — lay in the middle of the Diag. LSA senior
Heather Hicks, a Spanish concentrator, said these slogans express
the ideals of the event. “It was a last-minute, impromptu
vigil, but I think everyone here felt some pain for Spain,”
The vigil participants also observed a second of silence for
each one of the victims killed in the terrorist attacks. Following
the period of silence, they joined in singing a Spanish patriotic
The same day as the University vigil, an estimated 2.3 million
marchers gathered in Madrid to mourn the victims of the attacks and
demand the capture of the terrorists responsible.
Spanish officials are studying a tape in which a group
identifying itself as al-Qaida claimed responsibility for
Thursday’s terrorist attacks. They have arrested five people
in connection with the bombings.
— The Associated Press contributed to this