One lighted candle after another pierced through the darkness at Union Elementary School Thursday night, reminding all those there that although first-grader Alyiah Morgan’s life had been cut short, the soul of the youngster would shine on in all those who knew and loved her.
It was that light that ended an hour-long ceremony which began as part of National Day of Prayer ceremonies and closed with a candlelight vigil in remembrance of the youngster lost just over a week ago when she was struck and killed by a reportedly impaired driver.
Dozens gathered under, and just outside, the covered walkway at the elementary school, including members of Alyiah Morgan’s family, emotion clearly visible on their faces. The youngster’s portrait stood on an easel, her smiling face beaming out at the gathered audience of community members, faculty and staff there to offer prayers and support, as well as light candles for the youngster.
Light, said the Rev. Tim Register in leading the vigil, was among the first words spoken at the creation of the world.
“Light represents goodness, victory over evil, a separation from darkness. Light began with God and it represents the eternal soul that burns within each of us.”
He urged all those there to remember that even though Alyiah was no longer with them, that a part of her — her light — would continue to burn bright within all those who loved her.”
Register told a story, ending with what he said were two important things to remember: You cannot lose something when you know where it is; and death can hide but it cannot diminish.
“Alyiah is with Christ. We know where she is, so we cannot lose her. And the love that joined us to her will continue to join us to her.”
Register reminded all those there of times when Alyiah wasn’t in there presence, whether she had left her family to go to school, or left school to return to her family. “She’d go her way, we’d go ours, and in that physical sense she wasn’t with us, but that did not stop the love we had for her … nor will it now, even in death.”
He praised the Union community for how it came together after the tragedy. “Through the tragedy we found the humanity that joins us together in a spirit of love.
“We should learn a lesson from this tragedy: why should we wait until tragedy strikes to reach out to love one another … now our love for one another should grow stronger.”
As Register turned from words to song, Cub Scouts from Troop 70 filed under the walkway armed with lighted candles. With voices joined in the strains of “Amazing Grace,” the Scouts touched their flame to each participant’s candle, igniting a spark that slowly turned away the darkness.
Tears flowed as Register then led the group in ‘Jesus Loves Me,” the dozens of candles illuminating the young girl’s portrait.
Earlier in the evening, ministers, community members and Sampson County Schools officials led the gathered group in nearly a dozen
different prayers, lifting voices to God with pleadings of help for the nation, the county, the schools, educational leaders, parents, the sick and the world.
Each prayer urged healing, understanding and a return to the moral fiber which made this country strong.
In her prayer, school board member Faye Gay talked about the family, particularly parents who she urged to be role models for their children, understanding but forceful, there for them as they grow up.
“As our families crumble so, too, does our nation,” she said, offering her prayer that families would be united again, making time for one another.”
At the close of the evening, Union Elementary principal Linda Jewell Carr offered her thanks to those who’d come to share in prayer and offer support for Aliyah Morgan’s family.
“We appreciate your prayers and your support, ” Carr said. “It’s very important to us all, to this community, to this school family.”