Palouse gatherings demonstrate unity

Tribune file photoPeople pray at a vigil in the days following the 9/11 attacks.

This story originally ran Sept. 13, 2001, in the Lewiston Tribune.

———

Thousands of residents in Moscow and Pullman responded to the worst terrorist acts in history Wednesday night at candlelight vigils with words of comfort and solidarity, hugs and tears.

———

MOSCOW — The Moscow vigil began as a march from the Student Union Building at the University of Idaho and swelled to a crowd of about 2,000 people at East City Park, where community and UI leaders spoke about tragedy and unity.

“We stand as a community and a country made of many diverse groups and religions, and now we need to stand together in the face of the attacks,” said Mayor Marshall Comstock.

For many in the crowd the gathering of the community was a necessary step in the process toward understanding and healing.

“I think it fills a need. I think people are looking for an outlet for all of our pain, a whole realm of feelings,” said Hal Godwin, UI vice president of students.

Although many came in search of healing, others came with different emotions.

One sign at the vigil said: “1 find them, 2 kill them, 3 obliterate their support.”

Others attended to be part of a community experiencing the same national nightmare together.

“I needed it,” said Cheryl Scott, whose husband used to work in the Pentagon. “We are far from my family, who are all back East. I needed to share this.”

Scott brought her children, Kelly and Robert, to the vigil.

Kelly was impressed by the community’s response to the terrorist attacks. “It’s awesome that everyone is coming together like this.”

Many parents pushed their children in strollers or carried them on their shoulders to the vigil.

Jennifer Wallace hopes Adam, her 2-year-old son, will remember how his community responded to an ugly moment in his formative years. “I hope he remembers the positive things. I would like it if he remembers this walk.”

America and the world will never be the same again, said UI President Robert Hoover, who encouraged community members to reach out to one another.

ASUI President Leah Clark-Thomas said her generation has never experienced war, assassinations of presidents or Pearl Harbor, but they will always remember Sept. 11.

“This is it for us,” said Clark-Thomas. “The impact of this event has affected the entire world, and we are only a small part of this world, but it is the center of my world.”

Teary-eyed Jillian Whiteman, a fourth grader at McDonald School, said the terrorist attacks has changed her world.

“It may never ever be the same,” Whiteman said. “But we are safe here, and nothing can ever hurt us.”

After singing “America, America” people wiped away tears, hugged and slowly filed out of the park.

———

PULLMAN — Hundreds of Washington State University students and community members recited the Pledge of Allegiance, hands over their hearts, and held a moment of silence Wednesday night at Reaney Park for the victims of the terrorist attacks.

The candlelight vigil began at Terrell Friendship Mall on the WSU campus. Then WSU President Lane Rawlins, leaders of the university’s student body and international and diversity-related student groups led the walk of solidarity to the park.

They were met there by many in the community, including Pullman Mayor Mitch Chandler and several of the community’s interfaith leaders from Muslim, Catholic, Jewish and Christian churches.

“We have all been moved in deep sorrow and immense anger,” Chandler said.

“These events will not be easy to put behind us, but we can use this demonstration of our solidarity to embrace our best qualities.”

Rawlins urged everyone to be tolerant toward their neighbors and said the sign of solidarity will continue at WSU’s football game Saturday, where everyone attending will be encouraged to wear white.

“The most effective tools for fighting ignorance and hate are education and understanding,” Rawlins said. “We are a community and we must take care of each other.”

WSU counselors were available at the vigil to help anyone in need, as well as volunteers for the Red Cross, who took donations for the victims of Tuesday’s attack. n