Mercer students gathered on the tenth anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks to honor those who lost lives or loved ones.
Alpha Phi Omega partnered with Campus Life and the Religious Life center to put together the ceremony. The memorial service began in Newton Chapel and finished with a candlelight vigil and flag-raising.
SGA President Jordan Locke opened the service, sharing Jesse Mercer’s words: “Divided, strength is weak, but united, strength is powerful.”
Shé Farquharson of Alpha Phi Omega shared a poem titled “One” by Cheryl Sawyer; Mercer Veterans Association’s president Gene Mitchell read two passages of the Bible and Stephen Boyer and Tionna Crawford performed “Let there be Peace.”
Maaz Sheikh of the Muslim Student Association read a passage from the Qur’an. Craig McMahan, University Minister and Dean of Chapel, said the reading was a good way to foster understanding between religious groups on campus. “Terrorists should not be the measure by which we judge all Muslims,” McMahan said.
McMahan also shared a message to conclude the chapel service. “Tonight I stand here in this safe place, this sanctuary, and I wonder how you and I will construct our own memorials,” he said. He focused on positive aspects: “What will the memorial for September 11 be?” McMahan asked. “Will it be hatred; will it be fear; will it be suspicion; will it be sorrow; will it be grief? Or will it be light … the light of sacrifice for others?”
“God help us, the God of us all help us … to honor those who have given their lives … by carrying on their lights,” he said.
Attendees of the service then proceeded in silence to the flagpole between Connell and Roberts Hall to hold a candlelight vigil during which “Amazing Grace” was sung and “God Bless America” was played on the bagpipes. The service concluded with a prayer led by McMahan.
Mitchell, who is a veteran of the Iraq War, said the service was important because 9/11 is something that all Americans identify with. “As an American who lived and experienced that, the least I can do is remember those who gave and lost their lives as a result of that day,” he said.
The service also honored the service men and women who died while rescuing people from the towers.
According to McMahan, APO students took leadership on the project.
“Although 9/11 was a tragic event and will never be forgotten, it was also a moment in history in which everyone came together and supported one another,” said Maya Robinson, president of APO. “We wanted to re-establish this support system and bond on campus by bringing Mercer students, faculty, and the Macon community together. Therefore, helping with the 9/11 Memorial enable us to honor the lives lost through unification and show that as Americans we can move on from the past and start building towards a brighter future one step at a time.”
McMahan emphasized that this service was important because Americans are now at a critical point of determining how we are going to move on from the tragedy. “I think it’s very important, as we remember what happened, to not be given over to the grief and pain and sadness,” he said.
“Now should be a time for remembering what was good about that day – that it gave ordinary Americans the chance to act in extraordinary ways, McMahan said. “The most fitting memorial is to live into and live up to the kind of sacrifices that were made.”