Remembering 9/11

September 11, 2021

Dear Tulane Community:

Twenty years ago today, as many of us were heading into work or school, we learned of the horrific attacks on New York’s World Trade Center, the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania. Nearly 3,000 lives were lost in these attacks, including many first responders. There were also more than 25,000 injuries, many of which resulted in lifelong health problems for survivors. The fateful date of 9/11 is forever seared into our nation’s consciousness. It is a day that everyone of a certain age will always remember and a tragedy that those too young to recall will study for generations to come.

It is likely that some of you reading this were eyewitnesses to that day’s events or lost friends and loved ones in the attacks. You and your family members are especially in our thoughts and prayers on this day. Among the shock, horror and tears of 9/11, there was also an undeniable sense of commitment, sacrifice and care for one another. We were not a country of red states and blue states on that day. Rather we were a nation brought together in tragedy and united by shared values and purpose. Sometimes, it seems that such notions have been lost in the decades that have followed 9/11 – and, yet, I see signs of them every day.

I see it in the Tulane College Democrats and Tulane College Republicans, who place hundreds of flags on the academic quad in commemoration of lives lost on Sept. 11. Hurricane Ida prevented such a display this year, but the resolve of our students and other community members to assist those whose lives have been upended by the storm is an even more beautiful testament of our shared values and vision. So is the effort with which Tulanians continue to confront the ongoing pandemic. This includes everything from treating COVID-19 patients to protecting the lives of others by adhering to safety protocols.

I believe one of the best ways to honor the lives lost on 9/11, and the heroism displayed that day, is through a renewed dedication to our fellow human beings, to our shared destiny and to a life lived “not for one’s self, but for one’s own.”

Mike Fitts