President Trauth spoke at two events in remembrance of 9/11. First, at the City of San Marcos and Hays County “Remembrance Day” ceremony, and later, at the SWT “Student Memorial Service” on campus.
I’ve been asked to talk to you today about what this day signifies and where we are headed as a community and nation. That’s a tall order.
September 11, it seems to me, is a symbol of what humankind can do when we act on our own worst impulses. Having said that, September 11 also is a symbol of what humankind can do when we hear a higher calling to the best within us.
SWT Color Guard members present the American and university flags as the national anthem signals the start of the student memorial service for 9/11.
Rudy Giuliani said that we must meet the worst of humanity with the best of humanity, and we saw both that day. September 11, 2001, was one of those moments in time that separates ‘then’ from ‘now.’ It separates who we were then from who we are now.
On September 11th we said goodbye to our complacency and our naivete. We Americans had led a charmed national life. We had experienced a degree of national security that is rare in the history of the world. September 11 took our innocence.
But as quickly as the towers fell, America rose. We discovered some things about ourselves as a community and nation. We discovered that we are a noble people in times of crisis. We discovered that our hearts can be broken without breaking our spirits. We discovered that we are reassured by the good hearts all over the world that broke with ours. My first e-mail when I arrived at my office last September 12 was from a friend in Germany, reassuring me of his nation’s support of mine. One world citizen reaching out in sympathy to another half way around the globe.
SWT University activity comes to a halt to commemorate the lives lost on the first anniversary of 9/11
Today we are changed. We know that wounds heal but the deep ones leave scars. And we are scarred. We are changed and scarred every bit as much as the ground itself in Manhattan and Virginia and Pennsylvania. And we here on the campus of Southwest Texas are scarred as much at the people of New York and Washington, D.C.
But those scars brought with them the gift of a new kind of truth and consciousness to our community and nation. We know ourselves in a new way and see ourselves in a new light. We see how small the world is, that we are the world and the world is us. People in our own families and people half way around the world seem closer somehow. We no longer feel immune to cruelties the rest of the world endures. While we may, admittedly, have wanted revenge at first, we now want justice. We know that no amount of revenge will assuage our hurt and that revenge reduces us as a nation to the level of those motivated by hatred.
We know that the ground beneath us has shifted and left us different. We are less concerned with the superficial, with differences in race, politics, degrees, wealth, religion or native country. We are more compassionate, more vigilant, more connected to each other.
SWT President Denise M . Trauth speaks during the 9/11 memorial service as Dana Marlowe, Interpreter Coordinator, conveys Dr. Trauth's remarks in sign language.
SWT students filled the campus quad to reflect on and remember the events of 9/11. All classes and offices were closed for the memorial ceremony with attendence over 6,000.
And that’s why we are here today. We are connected to people all over the nation and the world who pause today — at this hour — to remember. All of us remember where we were when the planes hit the World Trade Center. Each one of us will always remember the moment we heard the news. We remember that day of watching the scene over and over. We remember the horrors and the heroes, the heartache and the tears. We are here to remember all of that again and to remember who we are as a community and a nation.
While we did not seek this tragedy, we are a better community and nation for it. This is the irony the terrorists did not foresee: that the people whose way of life they sought to destroy would rise up even stronger and more committed to their way of life than ever.
As far as where we are headed, I can only hope that we go forth from here committed to living up to the principles we were so ready to fight for last September 11. I hope we will go forth with the belief that the rallying cry for freedom is a human one and not just an American one. And I hope that this community and this nation are headed for the higher calling to be the best within us.
I believe we are.
The SWT family stands for the National Anthem.
Students hold hands during the closing benediction by Karl Brown, Campus Christian Community director.