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Civic service marks day of remembrance

The eighth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks began in contemplative silence and ended with a celebratory concert to honor the victims and observe the country’s first National Day of Service and Remembrance.

Friday began with a campus-wide moment of silence—sponsored by Duke Student Government, Duke American Civil Liberties Union, Duke Conservative Union, Duke Democrats, Duke Republicans and Purple—at 8:46 a.m., the time at which the first hijacked plane hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center in 2001.

Sterly Wilder, associate vice president for alumni affairs, Michael Schoenfeld, vice president for public affairs and government relations and Provost Peter Lange also laid a wreath at the memorial plaque in Keohane Quadrangle Memorial Grove to commemorate the lives of the six Duke alumni who were killed in the attacks—J. Robinson Lenoir, Peter Ortale, Christopher Pitman, A. Todd Rancke, Frederick Rimmele and Michael Taylor

The National Day of Service and Remembrance was officially instituted for the first time this year when President Barack Obama signed the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act in April.

In observance of the day, the Duke Center for Civic Engagement sponsored a volunteer fair Friday, which brought 40 nonprofit organizations to campus to promote a wide range of causes and attract student volunteers.  

Amber Whitley, student outreach coordinator for the DCCE, said she thinks service is the best way for students to remember 9/11.

“On 9/11, so many lives were lost, so many risked their lives,” she said. “We can honor those people and the lives of those people.”

 Many students and volunteer coordinators said they hoped students would use the day of service to become more involved in their communities throughout the year.

“I think every day should be national service day,” said Allison Curseen, a second-year graduate student in English, who was attending the fair. “We should be thinking about our country all the time.”

Susan Paul, director of volunteer services for The Arc of Orange County echoed Whitley’s statement. The Arc is a nonprofit organization that promotes education for people with developmental disabilities.

Service is essential for the country, Paul said, to keep America strong and to keep America united.

“[Service is] a wonderful opportunity to create awareness about local nonprofit organizations—who we are and what we do—and create an affinity between students and something they feel passionate for,” Paul said.

Rachel Grady, a cancer survivor who founded Hold Your Head Up, which provides business attire, mentoring and professional development services to low-income women, said the chance to partner with students give her a much-needed chance to raise awareness about her organization.

The National Day of Service and Remembrance culminated with a candlelight vigil in front of the Chapel and a concert sponsored by the student organization Purple.

The concert, with featured performances by 2AM Club and Mike Posner and the Brain Trust, was attended by several hundred students.

“The concert gave people the chance to come and show their support,” said Purple Concert Co-director Joyce Kim, a junior, adding that she was grateful for the chance to celebrate the end of the organization’s Social Activism Week.

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