Students pray for peace to mark Sept. 11

The sounds of traditional Ojibway drums and prayers of several denominations floated from students gathering on Northrop Mall on Thursday to mark the two-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

At noon the sun peaked briefly through the clouds on an otherwise overcast day, shining on the Interfaith Campus Coalition’s prayer service. The service also dedicated a peace pole in hopes of a peaceful future.

“Our intent was to project forward instead of look back,” said Jerie Smith, campus minister in the Lutheran Campus Ministry.

Rev. Doug Donley of University Baptist Church led the prayer service, along with the Catholic Campus Ministry, Hillel, the Al-Madinah Cultural Center and the Lutheran Campus Ministry.

Organizers handed out off-white ribbons commemorating the anniversary before an Ojibway drum group led a procession around Northrop Mall.

Students and religious leaders followed closely behind the drum, surrounding Donley, who carried the peace pole.

The procession lasted nearly 15 minutes, grabbing the attention of students walking to class, resting on the grass or marching along the mall.

“(This service) is a symbol of everyone coming together,” Hillel director Amy Olson said.

The procession then returned to the pole’s location on Northrop Plaza for a moment of silence, followed by a prayer service led by each religious leader.

The peace pole is designed after another peace pole placed in Japan in 1955. It is one of more than 200,000 poles in 180 counties.

On each of the four sides of the pole, the words of Japanese philosopher Masahisa Goi, “May peace prevail on Earth,” are written in English, Arabic, Hebrew and Ojibway.

“Peace is more than simply the absence of violence,” Donley said. “It is also the presence of justice.”

The service was the third the Interfaith Campus Coalition has led on a Sept. 11.

“We want to send a positive, hopeful message toward peace,” Olson said. “A lot has happened in the last two years, and I hope we can continue to work together on campus and around the world and keep it.”

While prayer service organizers were happy with attendance, Thursday was just another day of classes and commutes for many students.

First-year student Joe Kotila said he observed a moment of silence Thursday morning but did not attend any events.

Junior Nikki Schwartz said she believes many students are indifferent because they are removed from the tragedy.

“Deep down people care,” she said. “It just doesn’t affect them directly.”

Sophomore Chad Warpinski agreed. He said the significance does not register because people are numb from hearing so much about the attacks.

Senior Carly Ballintine, however, took active part in the day’s events.

Ballintine donated blood and said she would have attended the prayer service if she did not have class.

“It’s sad that more students don’t care,” Ballintine said. “In 2001, we all felt a part of a single community. Now every year it becomes less and less.”

First-year student Kevin Speltz said he believes the shock Americans felt after Sept. 11 has worn off.

“The effect is not as powerful as it once was,” he said.

Speltz said he planned no special events for commemorating the day.

“I watched a special on TV a couple of nights ago,” he said. “That’s as far as I went.”