Stanford Report Online

Stanford Report, September 14, 2001

Thousands gather on Stanford Quad to pray and remember


The voices came haltingly at first -- quiet pinpoints of sound from a crowd of thousands gathered at noon Friday on the Main Quad, where a service was being held in observation of the National Day of Prayer and Remembrance proclaimed by President Bush.

"My sister. Her name is Robin," one man called out, somewhat louder the rest. People groaned in sorrow.

And with greater frequency, more voices were heard. They spoke the names of those who may or may not be alive after terrorist attacks Sept. 11 killed everyone aboard four commercial airliners, demolished a section of the Pentagon and brought down the twin towers of the World Trade Center in Manhattan, where at least 5,000 people are presumed dead.

People sat with bowed heads and listened to prayers punctuated by silence at Friday's service. Photo: L.A. Cicero

They also spoke the names of those who were injured or stranded or otherwise could not be reached on account of the disasters.

"It's all right even if the names tumble out of you and come at the same time on top of each other," said the Rev. Scotty McLennan, dean for religious life. "For we lift up all; we lift up each and every person's name in prayer."

The memorial service included prayers by various members of Stanford Associated Religions. First there was an Islamic call to prayer. Then followers of Jewish, Catholic, Protestant and Hindu traditions stood up and sang or chanted. A period of silence followed each. At the end, a Buddhist follower struck a bell several times. This also was followed by silence.

"As we go forward in the days ahead, I hope that we will be motivated first by passion and charity for those who have suffered and will continue to struggle with their grief," President John Hennessy said. "I also ask that we all remember that the color of a person's skin or his national origin or her religious beliefs do not make them a terrorist or imply that they harbor any sympathy for individuals who committed this crime."

He also said that Stanford's motto, "the wind of freedom blows," could serve as inspiration for people struggling with questions about freedom and how to maintain a free society.

"It seems to me, however, that if we alter our commitment to a free and open society, we will have given these terrorists a victory which they do not deserve," Hennessy said.

Many students, administrators, professors and other university staff, as well as residents from the surrounding community, attended the service.

"I just hope that some prayers can do something," said Julie DiCarlo, a graduate student in electrical engineering.

"I'm just really upset," said Kerry Roach, an administrative associate in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. She said the memorial service shows "that we're all united and that we support our country."