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We must deal with the tragedy and move forward

Sept. 11, 2001

KALAMAZOO--This evening (Sept. 11), members of the Western Michigan University community gathered at Kanley Chapel to reflect upon the national tragedy that occurred today, to offer prayers for the families of victims of today's terrorist attacks in Washington, D.C., and New York City and to unite in support for each other.

Said WMU President Elson S. Floyd, "While we know our lives may never be the same, we must continue." The complete text of President Floyd's comments is offered below.

Among those addressing the overflow crowd, composed largely of WMU students, were Theresa A. Powell, vice president for student affairs, Diane K. Swartz, dean of students, and President Floyd. Swartz asked more than 30 University and volunteer counselors, many representing various religious groups on campus and from the Kalamazoo community, to introduce themselves. Dr. Floyd later asked all of the counselors to join him at the front of the chapel as a demonstration of the support available to WMU students.

"Many of you [students] are away from home for the first time," said Floyd, "and must deal with this tragedy without the support of your families."

Powell, Swartz and Floyd each urged students to recognize that the University is sensitive to their concerns and fears in this moment of uncertainty and national tragedy, and that WMU is ready to assist and support its students.

The service concluded with a series of prayers for the victims of the terrorist attacks, for their families and for President Bush and the nation's leaders. Candles were lighted and all present in Kanley Chapel joined hands as the song "Amazing Grace" was sung.

President Floyd's message

This morning's events have been absolutely horrific for our nation and have touched all of us in deeply personal ways. The magnitude of the loss, especially the human loss, and the emotional toll it will take, is difficult to measure or even comprehend. But we know our lives will never be quite the same, and that becomes the most difficult issue to reconcile.

It is precisely at these moments, as our resilience is most taxed, that our sense of compassion for the human condition must permeate our every thought and guide our every action. In all that we do, we must epitomize our institutional and community values of civility, openness and compassion. We must celebrate our diversity and not become callous and premature in our judgment of others. We must seek to understand what has happened at the same time we employ a spirit of unabashed love and respect for others.

WMU was closed today to allow time for reflection with family and friends; classmates, co-workers and colleagues; and significant others whose time in this space with us is too precious to measure. The University will open tomorrow, saddened by the events of today, but with the resolve that we must continue with our work and activities.

While we know our lives may never be the same, we must continue. We must persevere, and we must ensure that the lives of all we touch are blessed with a sense of respect, care and human dignity. Our renewed commitment to this mission can, in some small way, help us deal with today's tragedy and move forward, even at this time when the goal of building a better world might seem a remote possibility.

Media contact: Thom Myers, (269) 387-8400, thom.myers@wmich.edu

WMU News
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