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Bearing the pain

BY HEATHER MOYER | CAMBRIDGE, MA | September 15, 2001

"We are here to let the whole world that though you may destroy buildings, you will not destroy what makes us America."

—Rev. Jeffrey Brown

The mourning continues across America, but citizens are finding ways to come together to remember and commemorate those who died and who are still lost. Vigils, marches, and rallies have been appearing all over the U.S.

Despite a rainy afternoon, over 400 people came together Friday afternoon to march in unity and hope in Cambridge. The marchers met at the Islamic Society of Boston (ISB) to first hear a speech from an ISB representative about Islam being a peaceful religion. The people then gathered outside to begin the next stretch of an event organized by the black clergy and the members of the ISB in Cambridge.

With flags waving and cars stopping to honk in recognition, the gatherers marched the five or six blocks to Cambridge's City Hall for a rally. "We are here to let the whole world that though you may destroy buildings, you will not destroy what makes us America," said the Rev. Jeffrey Brown of Cambridge, kicking off the rally on the City Hall steps.

The event was not only organized to remember those lost in the attacks, but also to band together with Muslims, many around the country having already been harassed after Tuesday's events. "There have been reports of disrespect and harassment to other fellow Americans," said Brown. "But let me say, if you're going to do that, you're going to have to do the same to me. We are all in this together."

Other speakers at the event included one of the heads of the Islamic Society of Boston, Basyoungy Nehela. "We are one body," said Nehela. "Muslims across the globe offer their condolences and condemn this attack." Nehela then read scriptures from the Koran and was greeted with applause as he told of how an attack on one human is an attack on all of humanity.

Cambridge Mayor Anthony Gallucio also spoke. "All people have been asking what Americans are thinking, but today we have defined what Americans are thinking -- we are united," said Gallucio.

Vigils lasted into the evening on Friday across the U.S. with people exiting their homes and lighting candles in remembrance of those lost. An example of how powerful Internet organizing can be, the emails went out all over the U.S. telling people to step away from what they were doing Friday at 7 p.m. and light a candle for unity and recognition. Along with the thousands that stood outside of restaurants and homes with candles, thousands of people gathered at Boston's reflecting pool. They lit candles, sang patriotic songs, and then placed the candles in cups and let them float across the water.

The vigils and acts of remembrance are expected to continue as time passes.

Back at the rally in Cambridge, Mayor Anthony Gallucio had words for the times to come. "Make no mistake, the months ahead will be trying. Where will our courage come from? Let it come from the firefighters, the rescuers, the medical workers -- let our courage come from those who are making a difference in this tragedy," said Gallucio. "Today we stand up and say, you cannot destroy a united world and a united America."

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