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Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Opinion

Day of Remembrance delivers poignant contrast to religious extremists


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David Delgado//The Daily Cougar

Most of the time, one does not think about the things that come together to build a connection within a university. Think about the walkways, buildings and artwork that canvas our campus. Now think about the Cougars before us who have walked on the same stone and gazed at these works of art.

It makes one reflect on other members of the Cougar family and the impact they have made. People should try to take some time out of their day to remember the individuals who have left loved ones behind.

This is the ultimate thought behind UH’s Day of Remembrance.

The Day of Remembrance — an annual ceremony that has been rejuvenated within the last few years — serves as a respectful reminder that once one is part of the Cougar family, he or she always part of the Cougar family.

The sentiment behind this day is to commemorate the Cougars — faculty, staff, students and alumni — who passed away in the last academic year.

The Day of Remembrance brings in family and friends of the deceased to show their respects and will be conducted by the Campus Ministries Association from noon to 1 p.m. Thursday in the A.D. Bruce Religion Center.

Invitations to the ceremony are sent to the families of the deceased. Those who attend are touched by the respect shown.

President Renu Khator, who was key in the revival of this annual ceremony, will speak during the service to show her respect.

Manager of the A.D. Bruce Religion Center Bruce Twenhafel explained the meaning of the event.

“We are not here to promote faith. We are here as forums for people to express whatever they want when it comes to their faith or lack of faith. … We are here to honor those individuals — not have a religious service,” Twenhafel said.

One point of the Day of Remembrance is unity. The ceremony welcomes members of the University community to share in the celebration of life.

“We call ourselves the Cougar family or the University family, and we celebrate a lot of things — families celebrate things,” Twenhafel said. “It makes sense to celebrate and honor those people who have gone through life, whether it is up to a freshman year in college and passed away or an alumnus or a friend who has lived a full life. The common denominator is that they are all UH people. They are all part of the UH family.”

While UH’s lack of traditions is commonly compared to colleges like Texas A&M University that are bleeding with tradition, this is a tradition that should continue.

Campus Ministries Association President Rabbi Kenneth Weiss, who will lead the service this year, said he believes the University needs more traditions that bring the community together.

“Each year, our reach becomes a little greater. And each year, it becomes more of a tradition,” Weiss said. “Those people who are coming in as freshmen will see this as a significant part of the University life.”

Whether it is a way to mourn the loss of someone close to you or to show support to the family members of the deceased, the Day of Remembrance needs to become a more widely known celebration.

Death is a vital part of life and needs to be viewed as a learning experience rather than just a difficult one.

Some students attend this ceremony without having known the deceased. The reason for this is a sense of connection to our school and our community.

All the people who have attended UH, even if only for a little while, have made an impact on someone. The ability to touch and affect someone’s life has no time frame, and this day shows that.

In light of this unifying event, there has been a negative shadow cast on parts of the student body. There is a great opposition between the Day of Remembrance and the religious extremist, preacher Chris LePelley who stood in front of the M.D. Anderson Memorial Library early this week.

While the A.D. Bruce Religion Center is a non-denominational place where viewpoints are welcomed, LePelley and his traveling family seem to have a much more narrow view of biblical morals.

In case one hasn’t heard, LePelley is part of an open-air religious group called Open Air Holiness Ministries. During his sermon, LePelley offended many observers with his extremely subjective views.

LePelley was speaking in a free-speech zone, but these zones should be limited to students and members of the UH community, not an unaffiliated man who greatly offends most onlookers.

Seeing these two different events take place during the same week shows the acceptance and opposition of certain parts of religion. While the Day of Remembrance aims to pull in all members of the Cougar family, no matter their beliefs or denomination, LePelley aims to criticize beliefs that aren’t as radical as his.

In order to expel LePelley’s negativity, it would be good for the UH community to empathize with fellow Cougars and show respect for those who were lost this past year, but who will never be forgotten.

Senior staff columnist Kelly Schafler is a print journalism junior and may be reached at [email protected]

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