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By Joel Brown
Symbolizing unity, a single candle burned at the heart of Western's campus yesterday during a memorial service organized to commemorate the victims of the events of Sept. 11.
The University Community Centre atrium provided a stage for various leaders of Western's student and religious community, as they took to the podium to speak to a gathering of hundreds.
While the service was dedicated to victims, the speakers were drawn from diverse religious backgrounds with the intention of sending a clear message of solidarity to the Western community.
"It is time to pull together," said acting Western president Roma Harris. "We need to respect a diversifying of the global community that is reflected around the room today."
Students representing the Jewish Students' Union and Muslim Students' Association, along with six religious leaders from various denominations that form the UWO Chaplains, spoke during the service.
"God has called us to light a candle of hope," said Michael Veenema of the Christian Reformed Church.
"We have to eradicate within ourselves any hate," said Rabbi Mordechai Silberberg.
"We have to join together as brothers and sisters," said Reverend Merv Wilson of the United Church.
Most of the spectators filling the UCC lobby and balconies remained stoic throughout the speeches, prayers and various commemorations that comprised the service.
"The willingness of everyone to come together even though they don't necessarily share the same religious beliefs reflects the quality of our campus," Harris said after the service.
Reverend Hilde Lorenz, organizer of the UWO Chaplains, gave credit to second-year honours business administration student and speaker Paul Hong for requesting the memorial service.
"Since we're together in grief, let's support one another," said Rev. Lorenz.
Josh Shuval, president of the JSU, said the event was a necessary step to help encourage the Western populace to show solidarity.
"It is important to show that all faiths, all people of the world are concerned to show solidarity, show the university community that everyone is getting together in condemning this attack."
The service was a symbol of how the events of Sept. 11 have drawn the attention and brought together the entire Western community, said Western VP-administration Peter Mercer.
"It is fitting to have a memorial service in the place where we study and work," he said.
With files from Erin Conway-Smith.