Archive for Monday, September 12, 2011

Baker University 9/11 commemoration emphasizes diversity, thanks to troops

The Rev. Ira DeSpain, Baker University minister, shares memories of Sept. 11, 2001, and how the university and students responded at a ceremony Sunday commemorating the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks.

The Rev. Ira DeSpain, Baker University minister, shares memories of Sept. 11, 2001, and how the university and students responded at a ceremony Sunday commemorating the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks.

September 12, 2011, 1:15 a.m.

Updated: September 15, 2011, 4:29 a.m.

Baker University Minister Ira DeSpain was on the Baldwin City campus when the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks took place in 2001. He remembers students gathering in Osborne Chapel that evening to mourn and pray as a community.

“It was a very fearful night. It was full of lots of tears, lots of uncertainty, lots of stress, lots of nervousness,” DeSpain said.

Members of the Baker University community gathered in the chapel again Sunday night to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the attacks.

“(The chapel) is a place for us to come when we deal with these ultimate things or tragedies that affect us individually or together,” DeSpain said.

The commemoration was organized by Baker’s offices of student life and multicultural affairs, the Baker University ministry and Mungano.

Mungano is a club that promotes diversity on Baker’s campus. It partnered with DeSpain and used the commemoration as a reminder that the attacks that took place were not a result of religion, but of terrorism.

Mungano treasurer Eldina Kunic is Muslim and acted as a speaker at the ceremony. Kunic read from the Quran and shared her experiences and memories of Sept. 11.

“(The ceremony) focused on diversity and how important diversity is,” Kunic said. “This was a terrorist attack, and it wasn’t a Muslim attack on the Christians or a religious-type thing; it was just an attack. There’s evil in many people, and some people act on it and some people don’t.”

Associate professor of physics Ran Sivron is Jewish and also spoke at the ceremony.

“That is the direction that I decided to go, to make it multifaith,” DeSpain said. “This is our community and we’re not all the same, and it wasn’t a religion that attacked the towers; it was terrorists utilizing religion.”

After the ceremony, guests were invited into the chapel’s basement for a service project as a part of the National Day of Service and Remembrance. Students wrote letters for A Million Thanks, a campaign to thank those in the military for serving our country.

“We wanted to incorporate service into this day, and the first thing that came to my mind was showing appreciation for those who fought to defend our freedom and defend our country,” director of Student Life Brett Bruner said.

The ceremony and project took place to specifically honor those lost or affected by Sept. 11 and the aftermath of the attacks.

“It’s important for us to remember the people who protect us. It is important for us to look ahead as a country and as people of faith to the possibilities of what it means to be united and living in a world where the idea is living in peace,” DeSpain said.

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