Overwhelming feelings of love and community filled the Pegasus Ballroom last Thursday, when nearly 300 UCF family and friends said goodbye to deceased UCF students at the 2012 Eternal Knights Memorial Service.
The Knights remembered at this year’s ceremony included Stephan Gomez, Christopher Beck, Kyle Urbanik, Andres Bermudez, Anwar Rashid, Anna Adams, John Phillips, Ann Hefferin, Mathew Paul, Taylor Wynn, Jack Beard and Sean McLeod.
The ceremony began when a single bagpipe player led a processional of speakers toward the stage.
Maribeth Ehasz, vice president of Student Development and Enrollment Services, welcomed the guests, then led them through the campus-wide moment of silence. When the intercom announced the moment throughout the Student Union, the building’s normal hustle and bustle was humbly silenced for 30 seconds.
The moment of silence was followed by the presentation of colors and the singing of the National Anthem, as well as a prayer by Brad Crawford of Campus Faiths and Ministries.
Though Crawford expressed thanks for many gifts, he ended his prayer on the theme of strength.
UCF President John C. Hitt followed by telling a story of a man in a Nazi Germany prison who questioned what individuals must do in the face of loss.
“Thank you for coming today, even at the cost of pain, to honor your loved ones among these UCF students, who are now Eternal Knights,” Hitt said.
Hitt was followed by Student Body President Matthew McCann.
“Together, as we remember the students we have lost this year, we uphold and embrace the third tenet of our creed: community,” McCann said. “Our campus is more than a school or a collection of buildings: UCF is a community and a family.”
The UCF Gospel and Cultural Choir followed McCann with the singing of the traditional gospel tune, “Total Praise.”
Eulogist Dr. Carolyn Hopp introduced each Eternal Knight by name, college of study and major. After each introduction, a single yellow rose was placed in a vase dedicated to an individual student. After the placement of the rose, a bell was rung and the student was declared an Eternal Knight.
A moment of quiet reflection was held for the audience as a time to observe the honor their friend or family member had just received, and then Contemporary A Cappella stood and sang “Stand By Me.”
The event ended with a poem, We Will Remember, which was written for the ceremony.
Students from around campus attended the event, many of whom came straight from class. Those who did not know any of the honored students still found the ceremony a touching and rewarding experience.
“A lot of people think that because we’re 58,000 that students can get lost in the fray, but that’s really not the case,” said Abu Ngauja, a sophomore advertising/public relations major.
Also in attendance were numerous Delta Delta Delta sorority members, coming to remember and give respects to freshman Hefferin, who died during the first week of the fall semester.
“I met Ann this past fall and only got to know her for a week,” sophomore advertising/public relations major Araima Caballero-Contini said. “But she is an inspiration to all of us and taught us all a really great lesson in community.”
In respect for the Eternal Knights, the UCF emblem in the middle of the Student Union was covered with yellow roses for the day.