9/11 Commemoration
California State University, Northridge

Wednesday, September 11, 2002
Oviatt Library

Remarks of President Jolene Koester


Good afternoon. Thank you for coming together as a campus community for Cal State Northridge's Day of Remembrance ceremony. We join together to honor and grieve for the thousands of innocent people who lost their lives a year ago today. Our gathering also demonstrates unity and support for the friends and families of the victims, and the countless others in the world who have been directly affected by this tragedy.

On September 11, 2001, the world as we knew it changed dramatically. Many of us were greatly affected by profound sadness and grief. In the span of a few hours, the sense of security and stability in our lives suddenly was taken away from us, as individuals and as a nation. Although we in Los Angeles were thousands of miles away from New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington, DC, many of us had family, friends, and acquaintances who were affected by this tragedy. Today, we are gathered to commemorate the memory and legacy of those who died one year ago. The victims were fathers, mothers, children, family members, and friends. They were as diverse as those of us gathered here today who work and go to school at Cal State Northridge. And they shared the same dreams to make life better for themselves, their families, their children, and their communities.

The uncertainty that was created that day has continued to affect our everyday lives.

It's clear that, as we continue the healing process and struggle to deal with the events of 9/11, there will be continuing challenges to the nation and to Cal State Northridge. We must remember that we are a diverse community. Though we are united by common goals and values, we must also be aware of our differences. This is something to celebrate and be proud of. It is often in times of crisis when our unity, and our commitment to diversity, is most severely tested. To meet and overcome these challenges, we must ensure that all voices are heard and none is stifled. We must stay focused on the cherished values of diversity, tolerance, and respect that form the bedrock of our nation. Especially as an institution of higher learning, where the exchange of ideas and knowledge is paramount, this University must and will be a model of civility and free speech, values that form the cornerstones of our Constitution.

But to truly honor and memorialize those who we lost, let us not submit to fear, but instead rise to the challenge and take to heart the great truths we have learned about ourselves in this past year: that there is strength and virtue in the richness of our diversity, in being humane, and in being part of a larger community -- and that there is no place for hate or intolerance in our world.

So as we return to class and work today, and reflect on the events of September 11, all of us must remember that when challenged, the very best of ourselves and our society must be demonstrated. In tribute to those who lost their lives that day, let us recommit ourselves to embody these values at CSUN in our everyday lives. Thank you.

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Sept. 2002