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Reflection and RenewalMessage delivered by President J. Michael Adams during "A Service of Reflection and Renewal", September 26, 2001.
The nightmare of September 11 has left scars that will never heal. A horrifying attack on U.S. soil claimed thousands of lives, cost billions in damages and caused immense sorrow. Fairleigh Dickinson University grieves with the families and friends of the victims, and the University community extends its deepest sympathies and thoughts to those whose loved ones were so cruelly taken from them.
We further pay tribute to those who selflessly rushed to aid the relief efforts. From those sorting through debris to those rushing to give blood, the outpouring of support has been tremendous. All of these individuals are true heroes. They have cast out some of the darkness and left us with powerful images of the power of the human spirit to prevail.
We know today* of at least 15 faculty, staff and students who lost members of their family. And we know of 10 alumni who are missing. Unfortunately, those numbers may grow. As we attempt to recover from this horror, we are also coming together as a community in ways unimagined just a short time ago. I want to express my most heartfelt thanks to all who have listened, rallied round their fellow citizens and offered moving messages of compassion and understanding. From the outbreak of this crisis, we have held memorials, provided counseling services, offered opportunities for discussion and tried to be there for those who needed us. We will continue to provide whatever support is necessary to comfort others.
The intent of terrorism is to disrupt our society and way of life, but our community is resolved to unite against such threats. We will not tremble in the face of barbarism. We will rededicate ourselves to our global mission and our goal of educating global citizens. This was not just a crime against the United States, but a blow to all across the world who treasure the value of life. Inhuman forces may try to divide us, but the threads of humanity remain interwoven across countries and cultures.
Now, more than ever, we must stand true to our fundamental values of tolerance, respect and freedom. Now, more than ever, we must look at the world through the eyes of others. Now, more than ever, we must resist those who preach hatred and those who seek to blame a specific group or culture; the true enemies are ignorance, isolationism and inflexible views of the world. It is ignorance that feeds hatred and fanaticism. And while it is natural to be angry, we must avoid blind rage and remember that what we seek is justice, not cruelty. Terrorism can hurt us, and it can take lives; but only we can surrender our humanity and forsake our principles.
Now, more than ever, we must overcome the feelings of despair and anchor our destinies to the promise of peace. And the promise of peace can be fulfilled through education — education that is inclusive, open and responsive to ideas, issues and growth. This is our mission, and in this spirit we go forward with hope.
The pain of September 11 will never go away, but the greatest tribute we can make to the victims of this tragedy is to fight for a future free from hatred and ignorance. We can — and we must — create an everlasting memorial of humanity, liberty and justice for all. From the toughest of life’s trials, together we will emerge stronger and renewed in our commitment to education as a path to peace.
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