BY JONAS BLANK
On a somber, breezy afternoon yesterday, over ten thousand students from around the University gathered to participate in a memorial service commemorating the September 11 attacks.
Held in front of the Tercentenary Theater in Harvard Yard, the service featured devotional readings from many of the world’s religious traditions. Four students read passages on the theme of remembrance, while four more read on the theme of hope. A choral performance, composed by University junior Carson Coonan, came in between the sets of readings.
The subdued crowd spilled across the quad onto the steps of Widener Library, some students sitting, some sobbing lightly. Many students bowed their heads throughout the ceremonies.
University President Lawrence Summers spoke last, delivering a charged message that urged students to respect diversity and work for change even as he drew sharp political distinctions.
He called last September’s events “a calculated plot to murder innocent, unsuspecting people… because they were members of this national community enjoying the fruits of freedom.” Echoing many of President Bush’s speeches of the past year, Summers said that the terrorist attacks “reminded us of the eternal existence of evil.”
Summers’ speech also reflected on the nature of the University and its role in the search for truth. He called for students to recognize the “moral clarity” of the fight against terrorism in all forms.
“We debate the nature of truth,” Summers said, “but there are some truths beyond debate.” He urged the assembled students to, “advance our common purpose by refusing to excuse or legitimate terror.”
Summers called for respect for diversity and tolerance, as well as for the men and women fighting terror around the world. Acutely aware of the surrounding academic environment, Summers repeatedly implored students to look for positive solutions.
“Ultimately, we will be judged not by what we oppose, but what we work towards,” he said.
Summers’ remarks concluded with the tolling of the Memorial Church bell, which lasted for two minutes.
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