Dear GCU Community Members:
Everyone of a certain age remembers where they were on September 11, 2001.
It was a cloudless day with a bright blue sky—a hint of fall in the air. Many of us were just starting out the day—in school, at work—engaged in the quotidian activities of our lives. When we heard the Twin Towers had been struck by a plane, we thought it was a small accident. By that afternoon, our lives—and the course of history—had changed forever.
The events of 9/11 affected all of us in some way. Some of us lost family members or friends in the attacks. Some of us had loved ones serve in the wars that followed. As a nation, we became more fearful, unwillingly becoming participants in a War on Terror that shifted the way we interacted with the unknown. Collectively, from that day on, we lost something critical: our ability to be carefree.
Yet, even as being carefree became harder, being caring has been an inherent quality in us that remains. We came together then in a culture of mutual care, mobilizing around our collective trauma.
Today, as we commemorate the 20th anniversary of 9/11, we again find ourselves in a time that demands from us a deep culture of care. The coronavirus, to date, has taken the lives of more than 660,000 people—220 times the number we lost on 9/11. The echoes of loss from 9/11 continue to ring as recently as two weeks ago when 13 U.S. service members and nearly 170 Afghans were killed in a bombing of the Kabul airport as the United States officially withdrew from Afghanistan. In retaliation, a U.S. drone strike against a suspected suicide bomber resulted in the death of more innocent civilians—a family with seven children among them. Even for those of our community members who were born after 9/11/2001, the time remains starkly with us.
I write to you today to call us together for prayerful reflection. We must continue in our practice of mutual care while we also use the opportunity of being in a learning community to critically examine this moment in the context of history.
I am thankful to be with you as we come together to contemplate, remember, and renew our commitment to care for one another.
Joseph R. Marbach, Ph.D.
Photo by Linda M. Orlando ’07, trustee emerita, on the 10th anniversary of 9/11, published in the Fall 2011 issue of GCU Magazine.