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September 17, 2001

Emory community reacts to day of tragedy

By Michael Terrazas


Last week Emory University, along with the entire nation and much of the world, reeled from the blow delivered in the form of terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. But just like the rest of the United States, Emory fought through its shock and grief and soldiered on in the face of tragedy.

By 10:30 a.m. the morning of Sept. 11, a large-screen television had been set up in the middle of the Dobbs Center to broadcast news coverage of the attacks, and a steadily growing crowd that reached into the hundreds assembled to watch. Harland Cinema likewise put newscasts up on the big screen.

Campus Life personnel scrambled to reserve rooms in the building for quiet reflection, mourning and prayer, and the Counseling Center sent counselors to help people cope with what had happened. The Assocation of Emory Alumni also opened the Miller-Ward Alumni House for people to gather.

Meanwhile in the Administration Building, the University leadership was trying to determine the best and most appropriate course of action. The schools of nursing and public health, both in close proximity to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which had begun a precautionary evacuation, were the first to cancel classes for the day. Around 11:30 a.m., President Bill Chace decided to suspend all academic operations as of noon, with the hospital and clinic remaining open. Chace released the following statement:

“On behalf of the entire Emory community—all of its people in every walk of life on our campus—I express my deepest sympathy to the victims of the tragedies of this day and to their loved ones. To the students and other members of the Emory family who today are in shock and grief, our hearts go out.”

Word spread around campus of an interfaith service to be held later in the day in Glenn Auditorium, and for much of the early afternoon the campus quieted, as nonessential employees went home and students returned to their residence halls.

At 5 p.m., the lower section of Glenn was full, and more people were making their way to the balcony. Lining the dais were Chace, Dean of the Chapel Susan Henry-Crowe, Emory College Acting Dean Bobby Paul, Senior Associate Dean Peter Dowell, Student Government Association President Anna Manasco and other students and faculty representing various faith traditions.

“This is a day unlike any most of us have ever known,” said Henry-Crowe. “This is a day we need to be together in solidarity in the midst of all our brokenness, of our fear of terror.”

“The victory we can take away is to realize that people can try to divide each other, but events like this force us into the arms of others,” Paul said. “Suddenly we find our common humanity with them. If we can do that, we do not let hatred and divisiveness prevail.”

Chace’s remarks appear here. Dowell also spoke, as did Manasco. Then, one by one, the students stepped to the pulpit and delivered prayers for peace, prayers for healing, prayers for love, each reresenting a different faith: Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, Sikh, Muslim, Baha’i and Christian.

A capella group No Strings Attached performed a hymn.

But perhaps most moving was a group recitation led by Don Saliers, Cannon Distin-guished Professor of Theology and Worship. Over and over, Saliers reminded those gathered “And so we must say ‘peace’” in all the word’s translations, with the crowd repeating peace in each language after Saliers spoke it.

To close, ushers lit the candles everyone received upon entering the auditorium, and the entire crowd filed out in absolute silence, marking the end of a tragic day for a University and an entire nation.


Back to Emory Report September 17, 2001