About a hundred people, Athens residents and students alike, stood around the steps of the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd on Tuesday. The sound of individuals humming a tune and playing instruments resonated through the air, demonstrating the uplifting mood of the group.
President Duane Nellis stepped up, and the crowd hushed as the microphone was handed to him. He welcomed everyone who had showed up to the 9/11 Interfaith Peace Walk, co-sponsored by United Campus Ministry, the Better Together Campaign and many others.
Honoring the 17th year of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, the Interfaith Peace Walk pays tribute to the people who lost their lives in the terrorist attack and aims to show the unity between all people of different religions, ethnicities and sexualities.
“At Ohio University we strive to showcase and celebrate what makes us a diverse community,” Nellis said. “We want to celebrate that diversity, and it’s with the help of people like you that we are able to renew our love and faith in the human race.”
Starting at the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, the walk continued along Ohio University's streets, making a stop at the Jewish student organization Hillel at OU and ending at the Islamic Center of Athens.
Elizarni, a doctoral student studying educational leadership, summarized one of the biggest points of the night’s peace walk.
“We have to embrace peace ourselves, showing that despite our differences, we are human,” she said. “We work for humanity. I am Muslim, but I am everyone's sister. We need to take action whenever injustice happens in a way of kindness, love, showing love despite not being the same as me. Everyone is different, but we are still sisters and brothers.”
At the Islamic Center, Mohamed Amira stood and shared the same sentiments of unification and inclusivity.
“The atmosphere created by this community makes this group feel like they are part of this town, part of this country and that they are welcome here,” Amira, a doctoral student studying global education, said. “This is what makes America great.”
Candles were then handed out among the people and one by one, lit up the darkening sky. The Athens Justice Choir sang over the joyful crowd, which joined in.
“I hope you carry this image in your heart in the year to come and that you allow it to bring you up when you feel brought low, and that you allow it to shine out from you as a beacon to others that they might also be lifted up,” Rev. Evan Young from the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd and executive director of United Campus Ministry said in his closing remarks.
“This is what we can do together,” Young said. “We can carry each other forward. We can lift each other up. Together, we can move all of us a little bit closer to the beloved community to which we all dream. All we have to do is keep on moving forward together.”