More than 1,500 people packed a Memorial Church remembrance service on Friday, Sept. 14, capping a week in which the University community mourned the victims and struggled to make sense of the tragic crashes at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and in Pennsylvania.
Though emotions ran high, the service was subdued. Worshippers stood along the aisles and walls of the church to hear clergy from Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist faiths offer prayers for those killed when terrorists crashed hijacked jets into the buildings in New York City, Washington, D.C., and in a field near Pittsburgh.
The service was just one of several events across campus last week, including a vigil that drew 5,000 to Tercentenary Theatre the evening of Sept. 11, including members of Harvard’s United Ministry and Harvard President Lawrence H. Summers, just hours after the tragedy began to unfold.
The Harvard community responded with counseling and relief services, community gatherings, and more direct action – such as providing medical teams for the relief effort, experts to explain the crisis, and blood drives to help victims of the tragedy.
Efforts are continuing, with a rally planned for today, Sept. 20, sponsored by the Harvard Initiative for Peace and Justice, to mourn the victims and call for a nonviolent response. President Summers will speak at Morning Prayers at the Memorial Church at 8:45 a.m. tomorrow, Friday, Sept. 21, in response to the events of Sept. 11. The Rev. Prof. Peter J. Gomes, the Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and Pusey Minister in the Memorial Church, has adjusted his planned sermon for this Sunday’s service to address the needs of the University community. He will preach on “Outer Turmoil, Inner Strength.” The church dedicated last Sunday’s offering, $12,000, to the American Red Cross for its relief work in New York.
– Alvin Powell