WEB UPDATE: Hundreds gather at GW’s Sept. 11 vigil

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Posted Sept. 11, 2006, 10:40 p.m.

A few hundred students gathered in University Yard Monday night to commemorate the five-year anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

The Student Association and Students Defending Democracy held the candlelight vigil in which University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg and SA President Lamar Thorpe, a senior, spoke.

Five years ago, thousands of people died in an attack on the U.S. in which two planes flew into the World Trade Center in New York, one plane flew into the Pentagon near downtown D.C. and a fourth plane crashed in rural Pennsylvania.

Monday night’s vigil opened with the GW Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps Color Guard carrying the American flag as the national anthem was played. Lamar Thorpe welcomed the crowd while students lit nine candles, each representing one of the GW alumni who died in the attacks.

“To see the congregation here tonight is a source of pride and satisfaction,” Trachtenberg said. “You are here to memorialize the GW graduates, but it’s a grander thing we mark tonight.”

He said people around the world are no closer to understanding each other and that the world seems more hostile and less peaceful. “But what alternative do we have but to try?”

Christian Washington, a first-year GW Law school student who also spoke at the event, said every American should be a superhero.

“Superman was present in the hearts of the police and firefighters who saved lives,” he said. “He was present in those that offered a shoulder to cry on, those that gave shelter to people who had none. He was present in every mouth that offered a word of encouragement.”

Although fear and anger grip many thoughts about Sept. 11, Washington emphasized that, “We cannot allow this day to become our Kryptonite. We must remember our power to forgive, to rebuild, to progress.”

Many students felt that Washington’s remarks evoked not only the feelings of the GW community, but also the nation as a whole.

“The (Superman) metaphor for everyday heroes is something people should remember and respect,” said Brandon Mansur, a freshman.

Mansur was disappointed that more people did not attend the event.

“While we should continue our everyday lives, people should remember the sacrifice of servicemen everyday, not just on September 11.”

Sophomore Ashley Mergen echoed this feeling.

“My parents are worried about me living in Washington, but we need to continue our normal lives, we can’t live in fear,” she said.

The GW community also observed a moment of silence at 8:46 a.m., marked by bells tolling in Kogan Plaza in remembrance of the nine GW alumni and others who lost their lives that day.

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