District, campus plan to commemorate 9/11

With few public events planned to mark the second anniversary of September 11, observance of the date will be relatively low-key this year.

The largest campus gathering is a candlelight vigil on the Quad scheduled for 8:30 p.m. Thursday.

“It’s important for individuals to remember and think about it and deal with it in ways that are important to them,” said James Hess, executive director of University Events.

The University will also toll the bells at 8:46 a.m., marking the time when the first plane hit the World Trade Center two years ago.

The Student Association-sponsored vigil, which will be similar to the one held last year to commemorate the attacks, is intended to bring the GW community together, SA President Kris Hart said.

“It’s a pretty modest event, but one that I hope will get a large turnout,” said Hart, who expects at least 600 people to attend. Last year more than 1,000 members of the GW community went to a vigil on the Quad.

The vigil will feature remarks from the Tunisian Ambassador, Hatem Atallah, and University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg. Members of the Jewish Student Association will lead the crowd in a prayer, and nine candles will be lit on top of the stage to remember the nine GW alumni who died in the attacks.

The service will be moved to the Marvin Center if it rains, Hess said.

Atallah said that while he has yet to write his speech, his remarks will focus on tolerance and the human suffering brought on by the attacks.

“There (are) so many things about 9/11 that one can think of, but the human dimension is the most important one of them,” Atallah said.

Trachtenberg and Atallah have forged a close relationship over the years, and Trachtenberg visited Tunisia last September to announce a new scholarship for Tunisians who want to study at GW.

Last year, students in Kogan Plaza read the names of the more than 3,000 people who were killed on Sept. 11, 2001, and faculty led 19 discussions throughout campus focused on tolerance and the war on terror.

At Georgetown University, students and faculty will participate in an interfaith observance for all religions. Students at American University will hold a vigil in front of a September 11 memorial dedicated to the three university alumni who perished in the attacks.

Events commemorating the attacks will be held throughout the District Thursday as well.

At 9:30 a.m., Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld will pay tribute to the servicemen who died in the attacks at a public wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery. At 4 p.m., the Dalai Lama will talk about how prayer and compassion can defeat terrorism at a free event at the National Cathedral.

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