Portland vigil comforts campus community in wake of tragedy

On the green of the Portland campus — amid hugs and tears and deep sadness — more than 100 students, faculty and staff gathered Nov. 1st to learn what no one can teach.

They sought comfort and understanding in the wake of the tragic shooting in Lewiston that took 18 lives and injured 13.

Remarks by several people including President Jacqueline Edmondson reached for hope.

“Over the past few days we learned that we lost friends and family directly connected to our university,” Edmondson said. “Our community mourns with everyone who is impacted. And I wish to personally extend my sincere condolences to all of you.”

Remembered at the event were: Maxx Hathaway, a father of two with a third on the way who recently completed the requirements for his business degree, Joshua Seal, an alumnus and part-time lecturer in the American Sign Language, and Thomas Conrad, a nephew of USM’s Board of Visitor’s Chair Rebecca Conrad.

“There are no words to convey how this tragedy has impacted so many lives. There are no words to explain how more than 560 mass shootings could occur in our country in this year alone,” she said.

While the president spoke, some people wept. A few held hands.

“There are no words to provide comfort to so many victims or to the families and friends who are asking how this could happen in our community to our loved ones,” Edmondson said. “There are no words. Because there are no words, I ask you to join me in a moment of silence to remember those we’ve lost. Those who are lost across our country through these senseless acts of violence and all who are suffering from their lives.”

The Rev. Ed Bove offered a prayer that asked for healing and togetherness.

“As we gather together today, may we experience the fellowship of each other, may we experience healing, and may we be harbingers of light as we engage in conversation and dialogue as we seek to understand,” Bove said.

Dean of Students Rodney Mondor talked about grief and the need to take care of ourselves.

“There are no words and there is no meaning that we can put to why this happened, which makes it very hard,” he said. “We are human beings who want to know and want resolution and understand situations like this put us in this place because we can’t get that resolution.”

Riley led attendees to a table with framed images of the 18 victims. He invited people to share their thoughts with notes to leave behind.

Edmondson talked of USM helping our communities, either through the crafting of new policies, creating in the arts or in the exploration of another field.

“This is what USM does,” she said. “We are in and of our communities and we will play a critical role as we move forward from this tragic event. In times of tragedy it is so important to come together to remember that it is important in these moments to know that this current state does not have to be a status quo. We can and we must be a change so that others do not ever feel this pain again.”

An additional vigil was held November 14th on the Lewiston Campus.