September 11, 2001
We gather here as a community to dwell upon an event that will not easily yield, now or ever, to understanding. The worst of public and private tragedies has come at last to us. Once it inhabited only our nightmares; today the nightmare pierced our waking lives. None of us has perished, but people exactly like us have-workers young and old, people of all races and creeds and colors, believers of every kind. A significant piece of New York City, one of the most diversely rich centers of population in the world, has been ripped away, and the ripping now can be felt by all of us and will be felt for years to come.
We have always said that the world is small, that borders count for less and less with each passing year, and that we are bound together as the people of the world. And we have said that we know that the technology improving our lives, and shortening the distance between us, could also be used as a weapon to hurt us. Now we know as a certainty how close we are to violence; now we know how little distance matters.
What we do now in the face of that danger will prove a great test for us all, for us within this sheltered community and for us all as American citizens. Let us hug closely to ourselves these essential truths: that life is forever precarious, and its joys must be shared just as its sadness must be borne; that the perpetrators of this violence today were not a people nor a religion, but individuals who did a terrible wrong to other individuals; that the institutions we have established to sustain and protect us-institutions like universities-must never tremble in the face of adversity, no matter how severe; and that we must forever find the way to love, for love alone will at last shelter us.
For some of us, the pain will be searing and almost impossible to endure, for the names of parents and relatives will emerge among the lists of the dead. And so, for the rest of us, spared this immediate agony, we know the duty we have: to reach out, to support, to comfort, and to embrace our wounded brothers and sisters. The fabric of the Emory community must not now be rent and torn. There has been too much tearing on this awful day. Let each of us become a healer; let each of us summon up all the lessons of reason and patience and understanding we one day learned, knowing that those lessons would be needed in the days of misfortune. Such a day is today. Let September 11, 2001, mark the time when, knowing great sadness and anguish, we practiced the hardest lessons-the lessons of love.
Emory President William M. Chace
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