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Students unite at campus vigil

Group sang national anthem, shared feelings about Tuesday's attacks

About 400 members of the UNM community gathered around the Duck Pond Thursday night during a candlelight vigil to remember those who died in this week's terrorist attacks in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania.

UNM student Tim Schettino sat by the Duck Pond after the ceremony watching a lit candle that he planted in the grass. Schettino, a former Brooklyn resident, was wearing a New York City T-shirt.

"These are the twin towers," he said pointing to the skyline illustration across his chest. "As you can see New York has a living spirit."

Schettino said his uncle, a captain with the New York City Fire Department, is physically unharmed but is probably suffering.

"Most of his friends are dead," he said.

Schettino said he has felt numb during the past few days and questioned himself about what it means to be American.

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"If there is a draft, how patriotic am I? When is it right to kill?" he asked.

He said he was amazed that some teachers went on with class Tuesday as if nothing had happened. He emphasized that it is important for people to mourn despite their political and religious differences.

During the ceremony, students passed a flame from wick to wick to light their candles. Many joined in singing the national anthem as two men held the American flag. Some shared feelings and stories at a podium outside of Zimmerman Library before moving to the Duck Pond, where the groups' reflection shimmered across the water.

UNM student Adam Rowen stood in front of the candle-lit circle and said his little sister, who attends American University in Washington, D.C., had taken a field trip to the Pentagon one day before the attacks.

After the ceremony, Rowen was almost at a loss for words when asked how it felt waiting to hear from his sister.

"It was the longest couple hours of my life," he said. "I came to show my support for those who weren't lucky enough to have their sisters there on the wrong day."

UNM student Adah Burke said she was glad to see people calmly responding to the tragedy with peace instead of violence.

"I don't see how killing more innocent people civilians is going to make us any better," she said.

Burke said the United States needs to think about why terrorists attacked instead of retaliating.

"I'm not saying it's right what they did but I can see where it's coming from," she said. "Our hands are not clean."

She said the United States has chosen sides by supplying Israel with weapons that help to kill civilians.

Burke added that retaliation will breed more conflict.

Schettino said it seems that negotiating with the enemy is not an option.

"There's no room to talk," he said. "It's very hard to imagine what we're going to do."

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