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ISSUE 116 VOL 1 PUBLISHED 9/13/2002

When human bonds are broken’; Community gathers for remembrance, renewal of hope

By Jane Dudzinski
Contributing Writer

Friday, September 13, 2002

Light poured in through the stained glass windows of Boe Chapel Wednes-day morning, as students sat shoulder to shoulder, unsure of how the anniversary of Sept. 11 would unfold.

The service marked the beginning of the events held commemorating last year’s terrorist attacks.

Throughout the day, students, faculty, and staff had the opportunity to experience a variety of memorial services and educational seminars. The events were collectively organized under the theme "In Remembrance and Hope."

In the morning, Pastor Bruce Benson presided over a special chapel service called "A Service of Lament and Hope." The hymn ‘When human bonds are broken’ was sung by those gathered. Throughout the afternoon various sessions and discussions were held in the Buntrock Commons.

The topics varied from poetry readings to first-hand accounts of the Middle East at this time last year.

The administration decided to remember and honor the events of Sept. 11 in this particular way for several reasons.

"First and foremost we are an educational institution. This day is a combination of recognition and education," explained James May, provost and dean of the College. "We can’t allow what happened to disrupt our lives because that’s what the terrorists would have wanted," May said.

The morning chapel service featured a dance that was performed across the country to honor the memory of those who died on Sept. 11 last year. Titled "Funeral for a Fallen Hero," Companydance and Veselica performed the piece fully dressed in black and with somber facial expressions. The piece was choreographed by an Iranian-born American.

In addition to the St. Olaf Cantorei’s choral performance, two special prayers were offered: one for remembrance of the dead and another for hope for the world.

Benson noted the special purpose of the chapel service, and of the day overall. "It’s not right or good for people to refuse to grieve, but the last word goes to hope. Together as a community we are grieving and hoping," Benson said.

May stressed that throughout the day, the overarching focus was placed on the two different aspects: remembrance and hope. "We lament for the tragedy, and we also have hope for the future," May said.

The specific purposes of each session varied depending on subject matter and presenter, but the overall goals remained similar. "We want to bring more understanding and appreciation to a complex situation, and offer a global perspective," May said, connecting the day to the overall mission of the College.

Reflecting on general feelings of the students, Benson commented on the unique goals of the campus-planned event. "Nothing anyone can say that makes matters right," he said. "[The sessions] are modest in terms of the enormity of tragedy and are likely to lead to ongoing conversation."

Yet another pressing issue that still lingers after Sept. 11, concerns the change on the campus over this past year.

"St. Olaf is a microcosm of the larger world. There is a certain awareness of the whole concept of terrorism, and what it means for us to be citizens of the world has heightened," May said.

In addition to changes in student awareness, Benson also speculated on a new sense of mentality. "I think that there’s less spontaneous exuberance and delight," he said.

Returning students this year have also noted changes throughout the school year on the St. Olaf campus, which already has such a strong community base.

"We’ve become a lot closer to each other and there has been a stronger outpouring of love among individuals," Lindsey Austin ’04 said.

The sessions throughout the day were attended by students and faculty interested in participating in thoughtful discussion and learning new perspectives.

Karen Cherewatuk, associate professor of English, led a session called "The Poetry of Grief." She read the poem "The Mashed Fireman" by Walt Whitman and welcomed others to offer their poetry as well.

Another session was led by James Farrell, a professor of history and Director of American Studies. His lecture was titled "9/11 in a 7/11 World."

Richard Bodman, an associate professor of Chinese, showed slides from his trip to Afganistan thirty-three years ago.

Richard Allen, a professor of mathematics, and Wendy Allen, a professor of French, described their travels abroad last year. Leading the Term in the Middle East during Sept. 11 last year, they discussed the experience of being Americans in Istanbul.

Edmund Santurri, professor of Religion and Director of the Great Conversation program lectured on the issue of Morality and Terrorism.

"Islam for Beginners" was the final session of the day, led by Bruce Nordstrom-Loeb, associate professor of sociology.

Meanwhile, in downtown Northfield, residents gathered at Bridge Square in the afternoon for a peace vigil.

Later that evening, the community reassembled for "A Community Service of Remembrance" at Bridge Square, followed by a special chapel service at Northfield Alliance Church.

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