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9/11 vigil offers time for reflection

Five years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States, there is still much need for healing, says the Forum on American Progress, a campus group, which will hold an anniversary vigil on the steps of the Student Center tonight.

The Rev. Amy McCreath, MIT's Episcopal chaplain, will speak to the crowd. "9/11 was a very powerful event for the MIT community when it happened, and there is so much that we still have to learn from it," McCreath said. The vigil begins at 8 p.m.

Recognizing and revisiting the pain of five years ago is part of the Forum on American Progress' (FAP) overall mission, FAP President Ali Wyne said. "While anniversaries of this nature are painful, they offer important and, in many ways, unique, opportunities for reflection," he said. "At a time when short-term demands are numerous and urgent, important historical dates like September 11th can compel citizens and leaders alike to think beyond the immediate future."

The FAP hopes that the vigil will provide an opportunity to ask many questions, Wyne said. "How can the United States prevent the recurrence of an attack on the scale of September 11th?" he asked. "We should ask, 'How can the United States restore the position of leadership that it once enjoyed? How can it defend its security and advance its interests in a manner that enhances the welfare of the global community?'"

The Association of Student Activities officially recognized FAP in 2005. Since then, it has hosted lectures by many prominent scholars, including Noam Chomsky, emeritus professor of linguistics, and others from Harvard and other schools. They also partnered with other student organizations to raise thousands of dollars for victims of the South Asian tsunami and of Hurricane Katrina.

The FAP's mission is to "allow students, faculty and other members of the MIT community to explore ways in which the United States can prudently exercise its power, so as to maintain and project its leadership in the 21st century, and in so doing contribute to the progress of the global community," Wyne said.

The anniversary of the 9/11 attacks is an important time for people to talk and learn, Wyne said. For McCreath, it is an opportunity to reach out and extend a hopeful message, she said.

"I had only been at MIT for a month when it happened, so there is nothing that shaped my sense of calling here more powerfully," McCreath said. "My message isn't finished yet, but I know I want to call all of our students, faculty and staff, regardless of whether they are people of faith or not, to think of their work as scientists and engineers as a vocation and use their skills to work for peace, justice and greater understanding between cultures."

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