Students reflect on 911 at the candlelight vigil. (Photo provided by Mount Saint Mary College)

by Alexandra Hanlon

On September 11th, 2012, Mount Saint Mary College students walked into the Guzman Chapel, anticipating the candlelight vigil that was about to take place in remembrance of those who lost their lives eleven years ago to the day.

Survivors still mourn after all these years and can’t help but to ask why it happened. Candles were lit and the room grew silent as people reflected on the violence that struck our nation. Prayers were read, songs were sung, and a video of remembrance reminded all of us why life should never be taken for granted in a world full of unknown terror. Sniffles of sadness were heard through the chapel as the video revealed photos of the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, the fields in Pennsylvania, and the destruction and chaos that ensued on that day. Photos of fire and rescue groups helping those injured were shown, and the sadness left for the loved ones who lost a family member or friend was palpable.

That was only the beginning of an intense vigil that would end in tears. The ceremony began, “We pause to remember those who have died. We also look to the future with hope as we come together as a community to pray instead of hate and anger, the world may come to know love and peace.”

As a community, we held this vigil to show those who lost loved ones that we do care about them, that we do understand the pain they feel. Each year that a vigil is held, more and more people attend, wanting to understand and to participate in celebration of the lives that were lost. We can never end the suffering, but we can take away some of the despair that was left with them by honoring those who died.  Attendees walked away with tears in their eyes and a powerful sense of self and of others. They began to realize that those who did not make it home that day eleven years ago have left behind a family who grieves for them every waking moment, and they have reflected on their own lives since then.

Forever we will ask why this happened and wonder if it could have been prevented. In a simple moment of silence and short ceremony, we remembered and we celebrated the brave men, women and children who are true heroes to us. God bless.