August 29, 2007
Today marks the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. For all New Orleanians and Tulanians this is a day of reflection, remembrance and hope.
I, like many of you, vividly recall the devastation of the city and its people during the days and weeks following the storm. The sense of hopelessness and loss in the storm's immediate aftermath will be forever etched in my mind. I have never seen or experienced such sorrow in my life.
One of my most vivid memories occurred the Thursday after the storm when I finally left the city and landed in Houston after being rescued by a helicopter from the Mississippi River levee. I could not sleep that night and decided to get some exercise and watch the news. It was really the first time I had seen what was happening throughout the city. As I watched TV, I was in a state of disbelief and could only ask myself, "How could this possibly happen in America?"
Two years later the memories are still there, but the feeling of hopelessness has been replaced with a sense of determination and optimism for the future of Tulane and New Orleans. The source of this hope emanates from my faith in the resiliency and strength of the human spirit. In the last two years, I have seen ordinary people do extraordinary things and never quit despite the overwhelming odds. As long as that spirit continues to prevail, New Orleans will ultimately become a much stronger and better city than it was pre-Katrina.
Tulane's remarkable recovery is a testament to the quality and dedication of you and everyone associated with the institution, including our Board, alumni, faculty, staff and our students. Without your commitment and love of Tulane we would not have been able to recover and renew this great institution as we have. For this, I will always be grateful.
So as we mark this anniversary, let us remember what occurred on August 29, 2005 while embracing the wonder of the human spirit and its capacity to overcome such great tragedy.
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