Thousands of GW students, faculty and staff joined in Kogan Plaza to show their support and offer prayers Wednesday night at a memorial service and vigil held for the victims of the World Trade Center and Pentagon tragedies.
Many leaders of the GW community gave messages of hope and inspiration.
Student Association President Roger Kapoor led the ceremony, offering his own views on how students should cope and learn from the tragedies.
“Yesterday was an education in both the worst and best in human nature,” Kapoor told the crowd.
Kapoor urged students to grieve together because diversity is what makes the campus strong.
“Hatred and prejudice produce nothing but sorrows,” he said.
Father Robert Panke, GW’s Catholic chaplain, read a passage from the Bible conveying a message of forgiveness and hope.
Jewish chaplain Simon Amiel, Muslim chaplain Mohammed Omeish and Protestant chaplain Laureen D. Smith all spoke and offered solace for a mourning crowd that filled Kogan Plaza.
GW President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg spoke of his own faith and optimism in his students’ generation.
“I am strongly moved by your presence,” he said. “People question if your generation is as great as those before it. I believe there is no reason not to have confidence in the future.”
Trachtenberg said universities across the nation were holding vigils in memorial of those lost and in protest of terrorism.
Professor Erina McGeorge spoke on behalf of the faculty.
McGeorge said people need to come together and develop a sense of unity because the events of Tuesday made the world a “new and insecure place.”
After the service, hundreds of GW community members slowly filed out with glowing candles in hand up H Street to the Quad. On the Quad, students sat silently on the grass with friends and reflected in their own thoughts.
“It was a tragedy against America and the world. I came to pay my respects to the fallen,” freshman David Grossman said.
“I think we are all here for the same reason. We are all upset from yesterday and I came to show support to the people who have died,” sophomore Alexis Confer said.
Kapoor said the number of students who showed is encouraging.
“The number of students clearly shows it was needed,” Kapoor said. “It started the healing process. I am glad we were able to put this together, it was a first step and we continue to help.”