On Sunday, President David Skorton spoke at a ceremony in Willard Straight Hall commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. Skorton recalls his memory of Sept. 11, 2001, and speaks to Cornellians about the lasting impact of the day.
President David Skorton: We come together this evening on a fateful anniversary to remember an event that is seared into all of our memories. Not to relive the horrors of that day — but perhaps some of that is inevitable — but to honor those we lost and to reflect on the repercussions of that day in our personal lives and the life of our nation and the world.
As a campus community, we come together in times of crisis as well as in times of remembrance and reflection. A decade ago, I was a part of another university community, and in Iowa we thought of colleagues and friends in New York and Washington and Pennsylvania on that fateful day.
At Cornell, as in Iowa, people wanted to help. They rushed to give blood, to raise money for victims andrescue agencies. The Arts Quad overflowed on Sept. 14 as some 12,000 people gathered for a service of remembrance.
And just as we were fortunate in Iowa and in so many other places around the country to have wise voices offering perspective on the unthinkable, here at Cornell, you had Prof. Walt LaFeber [history] to illuminate these terrible attacks with profound understanding of history, and President Hunter Rawlings to remind listeners to cherish academic freedom, calling it “the best response to terrorism, that thrives on secrecy and hate.” A few days after that, some 500 Cornell students attended a teach-in, where faculty and students together considered the attacks and what might lie ahead.
This community responded with minds as well as hearts, with both empathy and intellect — as we should, being blessed with all the resources of a highly-educated, multicultural community. We are this evening not in crisis, but in remembrance.
But we still need the strengths in both heart and mind to understand the events of a decade ago, and most important, to work for a future of peace. We mourn the lives lost in New York and Washington and Pennsylvania that day, and we honor the rescuers who gave their own lives for others, the soldiers who died in ensuing wars and those who have struggled and survived and still bear the scars.
But we are also here to celebrate all of the good memories of friends and loved ones. In their memory, we can and should use the resources of this University community in ways that foster tolerance and peace and justice and love.