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BU community comes together to honor Marathon victims with vigils

Students gather at Marsh Plaza Tuesday evening as a part of a candlelight vigil for the victims of the Boston Marathon explosions. PHOTO BY SARAH FISHER/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF
Students gather at Marsh Plaza Tuesday evening as a part of a candlelight vigil for the victims of the Boston Marathon explosions. PHOTO BY SARAH FISHER/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

Hundreds of Boston University students and Boston residents gathered in two memorials on the BU campus Tuesday to honor those killed and injured in explosions at the Boston Marathon.

Several hundred students and BU officials held a candlelight vigil at Marsh Plaza Tuesday evening. Behind the heads of hundreds of grievers, a flag flew at half-mast.

“You are all here because you have a desire to honor and show reverence for what has happened,” said Marsh Chapel Dean Robert Hill.

Pointing behind him to the statue of alumnus Martin Luther King, Jr., Hill said the crowd must remember the hope King stood for.

“We are here as those who are remembering with graces and gifts of those present,” Hill said. “We are here to accept what has happened and to move forward, cleanly accepting what we have endured.”

Anh Nguyen, a School of Management freshman, said she was volunteering in the EMS tent with the American Red Cross club at the time of the attacks.

“I love the marathon and go to it every year, so I thought it was a good opportunity to volunteer,” Nguyen said. “The tent was full of happiness and joy when the winners came in, and no one was prepared for what was about to come.”

Nguyen said her job was to write down the heart rates of the runners who needed assistance, but when the bombs went off, she had to step back.

“I didn’t know what to do, I was just a volunteer,” Nguyen said. “I just felt really useless.”

Dexter McCoy, a College of Communication junior who served as SG president during the fall 2012 semester, told the crowd not to be afraid and to remain vigilant.

“This act of terror was meant to steal our joy … and to take away our happiness and sense of security,” McCoy said. “To them, we must say no, and we must tell them that they cannot have it, because it belongs to us.”

Kisha Wilson, a 2010 College of Arts and Sciences graduate, said she has celebrated the marathon since she first came to BU and is hopeful that Monday’s tragedy will not change the nature of the annual celebration.

“I don’t think you can ever really shake Boston down,” Wilson said. “The marathon is just going to mean that much more to us in the coming years.”

As the vigil continued on the plaza, about 80 students gathered in Metcalf Hall to share their thoughts and feelings on the bombings.

The town hall meeting was a joint effort from SG, the Dean of Students Office and Marsh Chapel. “I’m hoping that we can have a conversation tonight,” said University Chaplain for Community Life Larry Whitney who opened the meeting. “I’m hoping to know what you’re thinking and feeling and worried about.”

BU Police Department Detective Lieutenant Peter DiDomenica offered students condolences on behalf of BUPD.

“It has been a pretty difficult year,” DiDomenica said. “We have been through a lot together.”

Sophia Woyda, a College of Arts and Sciences senior who served as SG vice president of internal affairs in the fall 2012 semester, said her mother was at the finish line at the time of the bombing but was not hurt.

“Everyone in Boston, their hearts were breaking for each other,” Woyda said. “This isn’t a time for terror and fear. It’s a time for love and community.”

CAS junior Anastasia Voevodin said she had run the marathon earlier that day.

“I’m honored to be one of those runners that was able to finish,” she said. “… When I crossed that finish line, it was tears of joy, not tears of pain and tears of hurt.”

Aditi Shastry, a CAS sophomore, said she was volunteering in the medical tents on the day of the marathon.

“All of us Bostonians, whether we are from Boston or outside of Boston, we’re a family,” she said. “There is hope.”

Edmo Gamelin, a junior in CAS and a candidate for Student Government president who spoke at the event, said he was pleased with the massive community involvement.

“I’m really glad to see so many of you guys here today,” he said. “It’s great to see everyone come together as a community.”

Whitney recited a prayer to close the vigil on the plaza before the crowd entered a moment of silence and lit candles on behalf of the victims.

“This is a moment for the BU community to bear witness to what we consider most lastingly meaningful,” McLaughlin said. “In times like these, we must remember that good overcomes everything.”

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