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Campus gathers, 12,000 strong, to mourn, reflect

By Jeff Holeman, Public Affairs

 

flower

A student places an iris by the reflecting pool on Memorial Glade before the service.
Peg Skorpinski photo

18 September 2001 | Berkeley mourned for the nationís fallen Monday, as campus leaders urged reason, peace and justice to the 12,000 who gathered at a service held on Memorial Glade.

Student and staff, faculty and friends all stood shoulder to shoulder for the hour-long service.

"Today we gather not as staff, students, faculty or friends," said Staff Ombudsperson Anita Madrid. "Today we gather as one community, one family, one people to mourn our countrymen, women and children who lost their lives so tragicallyÖto pray that we emerge from this horror with courage and resolve. Courage to secure a lasting peace for future generations; resolve to face-off evil and administer justice, wisely and mercifully."

A processional, announced by a lone trumpeter, accompanied a student contingentís arrival at the service. The UC Berkeley Wind Ensemble filled the air with somber tunes as other members of the campus community filed into the glade and surrounding areas.

Irises were distributed to arriving participants, and 10 wreaths of yellow and white flowers circled the stage. The pool at the gladeís lower edge became a place of reflection, both literal and figurative, as passersby piled the flowers around the waterís edge. Later, wreaths were arranged around the reflecting pool, and campus police in full dress uniform saluted the makeshift memorial in unison.

During the ceremony, Madrid, Chancellor Berdahl, Academic Senate Chair David Dowall, ASUC President Wally Adeyemo and English Professor Robert Hass reminded onlookers how the unthinkable acts of the past week had changed America.

"But let us resolve here today not to be changed too much," the chancellor said. "We are a community of learners committed to unchanging principles. In moments such as these, when a sea change of attitude is upon us, we must remind ourselves of the enduring principles that form the foundation of a free and civilized society.
 

two students embrace

Two students embrace following the memorial service.
Peg Skorpinski photo

"These principles also provide the bedrock for academic community," Berdahl said.

Maxine Hong Kingston, author and senior lecturer in the Department of English, led the crowd in a meditation. To the sound of a "bell of mindfulness," she invited all present to "breathe in the worldís pain and breathe out healing love."

Themes of peace and patriotism also came in the form of song. The Menís Octet and UC Chorus led the audience in "The Star Spangled Banner," while ASUC Senator Joanne Liu sang a rendition of John Lennonís tune "Imagine." During Liuís performance, a couple hugged, tears rolling down their faces. A father and daughter clasped hands and sang along. A larger -than-life American flag, held by students outside McLaughlin Hall, provided a patriotic backdrop.

"Today we pray together, one people ó indigenous and immigrant," Madrid told the crowd in an emotional speech. "For the moment, let us put aside our hyphenated national titles and stand together, Americans first. From many heritages, from many homelands, of many races, creeds and colors.

"Americans, bound by our faith in our ideals ó freedom, democracy, inclusion, tolerance and justice. So that through the images of smoke and fire, ash and rubble, through our shock and fear, through our tears and grief, we wake from this nightmare, strong again, hopeful again, united together."

A handful of anti-war protestor gathered peacefully on the steps of Doe Library. Signs reading "Donít Turn Tragedy into War," "No War" and "No Racism Against Arabs Anywhere" waved in the air. The displays of pacifism were welcome to many in attendance.

"It reminded me that this was Berkeley. It was comforting to know that I was having the same thoughts as those in my community, even though it is just a small microcosm of our country," said Rebecca Pauling, a student adviser in integrative biology.

"Over the whole weekend there was a lot of talk about going to war. Iím scared of that," said graduate student Adam Moule, who was holding a protest sign after the event as the Campanile bells played "Amazing Grace" in the background. "I believe the people who committed the crime did something heinous, but that doesnít mean we should start dropping bombs."

Berkeley, Berdahl told the crowd, is committed to seeking the truth. But in times of war, truth is "often the first casualty," he said, so the universityís obligation must be to preserve safety for all who seek the truth, through whatever opinion or political discourse.

"If we preserve our commitment to the principles of a free university, if we preserve our commitment to genuine intellectual discourse and the determination to understand fully the world in which we now live, we need not fear what lies ahead, for truth and understanding will ultimately prevail."

The event was one of the largest campus gatherings since the anti-war protests of the 1960s and 1970s. The glade was ringed with onlookers, perched atop every stair, rock, balcony and rooftop.

"In an unfortunate way, the tragedy of so much loss of life has brought people together for the first time in a long time," said sophomore Daniel Everly. "I thought it was great to see such a crowd on Memorial Glade. The message we all walked away with was one of compassion for each other and understanding in a time of so much grief."

 


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