There are certain images in history that stand the test of time: These include Times Square filled for V-J Day, mourners gathering outside the Dakota Apartment on Central Park West to lament the death of John Lennon and the multi-mile line to view the body of fallen President John F. Kennedy lying in state at the U.S. Capitol.
For University students, one of the many images that will define Sept. 11, 2001 is the sight of 15,000 people gathered in the Diag the largest gathering of its kind in University history.
Quiet, solemn and respectful, students, faculty, staff and administrators still in shock and quite unsure of what the future holds gathered to comfort one another.
Since most students are away from home, it is the University community that must serve as one large family.
Although Tuesday”s attacks on the United States occurred hundreds of miles away from Ann Arbor, they were still close to home. And in the upcoming, uncertain days ahead, it will be essential to maintain the genuinely close-knit University community that emerged that evening on the Diag. As Michigan Student Assembly Vice President Jessica Cash said, the University “seemed a whole lot smaller” Tuesday night.
The University has offered its resources for students to deal with the stress and uncertainty of terrorist attacks. Student should take advantage of counseling services in the residence halls and in the University unions.
The other promising sign that came out of Tuesday”s events was the fact that so many student groups of differing backgrounds and viewpoints came together to organize the vigil. The organizers, from MSA to Students Organizing for Labor and Economic Equality to the Black Student Union to Hillel and so many others, should be thanked for their commitment to the University and to the student population.
The heated Palestinian-Israeli debate that has placed great stress on the campus community this past year, was put aside on Tuesday. At the vigil, Muslims stood next to Jews, Palestinians embraced Israelis.
We can only hope that Tuesday”s horrors in New York and Washington will serve as a foundation for tolerance. There is no doubt that the Israeli-Palestinian crisis will be further debated and connected to Tuesday”s terrorist attacks.
Just as we gathered in the Diag on Tuesday, our university must remain united in the days, weeks, months and years to come.