Office of the President
Dr. Patrick T. Harker is the 26th president of the University of Delaware. He also serves as professor of business administration in the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics and professor of civil and environmental engineering in the College of Engineering.
On the Anniversary of 9/11
September 8, 2011
To the University of Delaware Community:
For all victims of this tragedy—no matter their race, creed or ethnicity—and for all those who suffer, by blood and by tears, that God may grant them peace. In memoriam 9/11/01.
—UD Ribbon Garden, September 2001
As we approach the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and remember those who died, what becomes clear—painfully so—is that we will never adequately memorialize the victims, nor comfort their friends and families; we will never be able to fully comprehend and contain our loss.
But we try. And trying is important.
Ten years ago, this University marked 9/11 with an interfaith prayer vigil, candles illuminating the faces of more than 4,000 students, faculty, staff and friends; with a forum designed to promote respect and understanding at a time when both might have been imperiled; with a blood drive to replenish diminished supplies in New York City and Washington, D.C.; and with a ribbon garden spread across the South Green, bearing messages of hope and love from thousands—some of whom knew people who had been lost and many more who didn’t.
I urge you to read the messages written on those ribbons in the days after the terrorist attack, when the shock of it was still fresh. It’s extraordinary that so many in our community pleaded for peace and tolerance; that so many exhorted us not to let grief turn to hatred and justice to vengeance; that we not relinquish the unity found in tragedy and refuse to yield to deepening divides. Many messages reflected Albert Einstein’s observation that peace cannot be kept by force, only by understanding. Another invoked our common humanity: “We are one. One nation. One world. One people.”
It is a source of enduring pride to me that this profound commitment to understanding is UD’s legacy. When Prof. Raymond Kirkbride, an instructor in the Modern Languages Department, introduced this University and the nation to the concept of study-abroad in 1923, he did so because he was a World War I veteran who had seen firsthand the devastation wrought by conflict between nations, and he understood that travel and study could bridge our differences, promote cross-cultural awareness and help heal a wounded world.
As we reflect on 9/11 and all it has come to mean in the intervening decade, I ask that we rededicate ourselves to this mission of scholarship and understanding. I invite you to visit our 9/11 commemoration page and leave a new message in our virtual ribbon garden. Memorials and seminars will be held on and off campus, and I hope you’re able to take part.
We will never forget that terrible day, nor those we lost in the violence. But we can take from our tragedy a more tenacious resolve to grow together in strength and hope and love—and to strive, always, for peace.
Patrick T. Harker