MU students, faculty and community members join in candlelight vigils to honor Paris attack victims

“We are brought together to share our humanity and compassion which there is no limit to unless we put it there ourselves,” Interim Vice Chancellor for Inclusion, Diversity and Equity Chuck Henson said.

Students, faculty and community members met in front of the Columns at 6 p.m. Sunday for a candlelight vigil to honor the victims of the Paris attacks.

The event was held by United Students 2015, an organization that seeks to unify women and men of all races.

“This is for Paris and for the 224 Russians who were killed in a plane crash while flying over Egypt, which was supposedly caused by terrorists,” said Thomas Lee, a junior and leader of United Students 2015. “We are all peaceful people coming out here to show support for Paris and for other countries affected by terrorist groups.”

The night before, at 8 p.m. Nov. 14 in Speaker’s Circle, Stephens College freshman Amanda Huntley and MU sophomore Cordell Cox held a smaller candlelight vigil. The two students met on Yik Yak when Huntley posted about the idea of hosting a memorial for Paris victims. They then planned the event that night.

About 30 students gathered around a chalk drawing of the Eiffel Tower with candles at its base in the center of the circle. Huntley opened by addressing the audience about the Paris attacks.

“A French politician said on 9/11 that we are all Americans,” Huntley said. “Well today, we are all French.”

There was a moment of silence in mourning of the lives lost.

Sophomore and former Maneater staffer Grace Rogers was one of the students who attended after seeing posts about the event on Yik Yak, which has caused controversy over threats of violence last week.

“Yik Yak isn’t well known for being the most credible source, and it has been a place where hatred has been expressed, and I thought it was very unique and interesting to see a positive thing coming from a place that has had a lot of hatred recently,” Rogers said.

During the Nov. 15 vigil, students, faculty and community members lit candles, reflected on the attack in Paris, expressed gratitude for Paris’ support after the Sept. 11 terrorist attack and took a moment of silence to honor the innocent lives that have been taken.

“We come together in fellowship here at the university, in Columbia and wherever we are from tonight to share that fellowship with the people of Paris,” said Chuck Henson, interim vice chancellor for inclusion, diversity and equity. “There is a great similarity in my opinion in what happened with 9/11; the shock, terror and loss of life. We are brought together to share our humanity and compassion which there is no limit to unless we put it there ourselves. As we share our time together and think about others, I am very pleased to be among you.”

Earlier in the day, students received an email from Interim Chancellor Hank Foley on Saturday night in which he wrote: “Paris is the city of lights, but last night the lights went out in Paris. We know that in the absence of light, there is darkness; in the absence of good, there is evil and in the absence of love, there is hate. It has been said it is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness. We illuminate our Columns every night at Mizzou to dispel darkness, evil and hate.”

Participants stood in front of the perpetually illuminated Columns and brought further light to the victims of Paris by lighting candles.

“We come together in unity to support the people of Paris,” Lee said to conclude the vigil. “Even though we blow out these candles, and these lights go out, the lights will stay on in our hearts for Paris.”

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