September 11, 2001
It is almost unthinkable that we are gathered here in the wake of this morning's unprecedented terrorist attack against the United States. Even as the horrifying details of the attack are still unfolding, we gather as a community to draw strength from each other, to comfort one another, to share our feelings of horror, of sadness, of anger, and of fear.
There are things we can do today, and things we cannot.
We cannot make sense of it, for it is senseless.
We cannot retaliate, for we don't know who to retaliate against, nor is it our individual place to do so even if we did know.
We cannot yet even mourn fully, for many of us still await word of the safety of loved ones.
But there are things we can do today.
Whatever belief system we adhere to, we can pray for those who are gone and for their families. The magnitude of their loss is indescribable.
We can keep in our thoughts those who have been injured and those who are working so hard to heal them.
We can lift up our hopes for our leaders, that their decisions will be wise and their directions sure.
We can lean on each other, and find love and caring for one another.
We can remember that there are many in our community who will be suffering the effects of today's events long after most of the world has moved on, and we can offer them comfort and understanding. More than a thousand of our students and many thousands of our alumni, friends and family members live and work in the New York, and Washington, D.C. areas. We must be here for them when they need us most.
As impossible as it seems right now, when the hurt and shock of today's events are so raw, we can try and understand how things came to this point. And we can try and understand how we as individuals can change our lives and our world so that such tragedy never happens again, here or anywhere.
And finally, we can learn from what has happened. We can learn what is really important in life, and understand that many of the things we consider important on a daily basis are temporal and fleeting concerns.
We can learn to focus on our families, our friends and our communities, for in the end these are the only things that matter.
At a time like this, my heart, prayers and thoughts go out to everyone in our community as we share this tragedy and bond together to meet the challenges that we will face in the days ahead. Our lives will never be quite the same because of today's tragedy, but we can sustain our hope and optimism for a future characterized by peace and tolerance. To allow today's events to destroy our sense of hope and peace would mean surrendering to those who have tried to destroy us.
America is a remarkably resilient country, as are its citizens. We can and will recover from this tragedy a stronger and even more united network of communities. Our history as a country has demonstrated our ability to rebound from tragedy and unforeseen events.
Before we begin our service of faith and prayer, I'd like for us all to link hands and observe a moment of silence for our nation, our community, and for all of us individually who have been touched by today's tragedy.
-- Scott S. Cowen
Office of the President Emeritus, 1555 Poydras St, Suite 700, New Orleans, LA 70112 504-274-3638 firstname.lastname@example.org