Dear University Community,
Tomorrow marks the 20th anniversary of September 11, 2001, an opportunity for all of us to remember and honor all those who perished on that day, and the loved ones who still grieve their loss. Our hearts and sympathies are with their families.
As I reflect upon that day and the two decades that have followed, I am reminded of how our community and our world has changed. We have all witnessed the impact of global and domestic terrorism and wars, and many of us continue to be profoundly affected by the memories of that day.
Since that day, many joined the U.S. military to serve and protect our nation. Others were inspired to serve as first responders. More recently, we have watched the evacuation of Americans and Afghan allies from Afghanistan, and witnessed scenes of chaos, confusion, and the devastating deaths of thirteen U.S. service members and hundreds of Afghan nationals. Members of our university community have found ways to help, including efforts to welcome Afghan refugees to our campus – a process that requires courage and compassion. One indelible image, covered by the national press, captured 2016 graduate Matt Jaffe, a member of the U.S. Marine Corps, pausing amidst his duties to comfort a small Afghan baby.
Many of us have vivid memories of where we were on September 11, 2001. There are those in our university community who lost family members and friends and still mourn their passing. For our current students, this is a history recounted in stories told by parents and teachers.
On this anniversary I am reminded that the university community is proud to be home to more than 1,600 active military, Veterans or Veteran affiliated undergraduate and graduate students. We also have faculty and staff who have served or continue to serve in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
The memories of September 11 and more recent news coverage from Afghanistan have evoked powerful, and sometimes conflicting, emotions. I am grateful that on our campus there are many ways to remember, gather, and mark this dark day in community with others.
We invite you to participate in campus events today commemorating the 20th anniversary of September 11:
- 9/11 Then and Now: Renewing a Commitment to Service, Volunteerism and Civic Engagement: A cross-disciplinary panel will discuss the impact of the 9/11 attacks and link our knowledge and understanding to present-day events, including Black Lives Matter, the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Afghanistan while emphasizing the importance of the September 11th National Day of Service and Remembrance.
- TerpVets (an organization of students who served in the U.S. military) will host the annual “Operation Stick It” – a display of thousands of U.S. flags representing the lives lost on 9/11. This event will be at 5:00 p.m. on McKeldin Mall.
- The Memorial Chapel will host a space for reflection at a 9/11 Interfaith Service and Remembrance Labyrinth Walk at 5:30 p.m.
- A complete listing of events, locations and times can be found here.
I also encourage you to spend time in personal reflection. Check on those you care about who might be deeply impacted by this anniversary or more recent events. If you or others need someone to talk to, reach out to the University Counseling Center or the Employee Assistance Center. You can learn more about resources for our Veterans and military-affiliated students here.
Earlier today, we published a series of essays from members of our campus community affected by September 11. I encourage you to take a few moments to read these personal stories, including reflections from Tarif Shraim, UMD Muslim Chaplain, and Rashawn Ray, Professor of Sociology.
Tomorrow evening, Maryland Athletics will host a moment of silence in honor of the 20th anniversary of September 11 and those that lost their lives. All of our football players, as well as the opposing players from Howard University, will wear a sticker on their helmets honoring the lives lost on that day.
May we never forget those who lost loved ones, and recommit ourselves to show the courage and compassion critical in responding to crises and inherent in our work to create peace.
Darryll J. Pines
President, University of Maryland