September 12, 2001
Good afternoon. Thank you for pausing on a day when shock is beginning to turn to new emotions -- grief, fear, anger, a desire to help -- and by your very presence, helping our community, the San Francisco State University community, to come to grips with an event that has horrified the world.
We are here to start to heal. We are here to pledge that terrorism will not achieve its hideous aim -- that instead of driving us apart, it will draw us together. We will not let terrorism change the eyes with which we view each other, the hearts with which we understand each other, the respect with which we treat each other.
We stand here as a united community -- united first of all by our sorrow for the victims of yesterday's unprecedented terrorist attacks. I share the feelings that I expect many of you are experiencing -- disbelief, horror, and extraordinary sadness. We feel all those emotions and more in the wake of acts that in their monstrousness have no parallel in our nation's history. Secretary of State Colin Powell has called these attacks "acts of war not just against the United States, but on civilization."
That is an attack we can -- and we must -- help to repel. Our role is not military. Our weapons are not guns or bombs. Our strength -- and our victory -- will lie in our values and our commitment to community. Last night I had a wonderful meeting with the students in our residence halls, some 1,200 of them. Our gathering was positive, even inspiring.
I left it uplifted, buoyed up by the wonderful demonstration of caring and concern our students were showing for each other. The message I heard from student after student was that they were determined to continue to see each other as friends, to look out for each other. The group that gathered last night expressed a determination to make sure that now more than ever, we will not let differences in background, ethnicity, or appearance cause us to treat each other badly.
Less than an hour ago, I received a note that I would like to share with you. It came from the Muslim Student Association here on campus, and it read, in part: "We at the Muslim Student Association express deep sympathy and pray for the victims in the New York World Trade Center and Washington D.C. May the peace and blessing of God be with them."
That message is a heartfelt reminder of the concerns and values we are reemphasizing today. Our continued sense of community will be the heart of our victory over terrorism. We are going to continue in the difficult times ahead to embody the spirit of unity and understanding that is the very best of San Francisco State. We have a remarkable opportunity in the coming days and weeks to affirm our community and our common humanity. And doing so will make us stronger, will help us heal.
We all know that the hardest days may lie ahead. We are very likely to learn, in days to come, that members of our university community are among those who have been directly touched by these terrible events. We're back in our classrooms and offices as usual today, but we know that it is not campus life as usual. We have all been touched -- and changed -- and the best thing for us now is to come together in as many ways as possible, to draw comfort from each other, and to extend all possible help through emergency agencies.
Responsibility for these terrorist acts has yet to be determined. But whoever is found responsible, it should make no difference to our relationships with each other. We need to look out for our own -- and our own are all of us.
I have seen before that this campus comes together splendidly in times of crisis. I am confident that we will do so once more.
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