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Service, Celebration and Remembrance

Thursday, April 18, 2019

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Dear Tulane Community:

Cleaning catch basins, pulling weeds, painting park benches or sorting Mardi Gras beads is not how most people like to kick off a holiday weekend. But these are some of the ways we Tulanians translate our Latin motto non sibi sed suis into the everyday language of action. "Not for one's self, but for one's own" will be the guiding principle today as hundreds of Tulane faculty and staff take to the streets to beautify City Park, prepare food for families in need or sort pounds of carnival beads to assist those with special challenges. It is hard, hot and sometimes dirty work, but everyone always seems to have a smile on their face. Maybe they are thinking about the long holiday weekend ahead or perhaps just how good it feels to join their colleagues in helping others.

This weekend marks a period of special religious observances along with family gatherings, crawfish boils and celebrations for all. It also marks the end of a week in which the world watched with horror as flames consumed the nearly 900-year-old Notre Dame Cathedral. While much was lost, much was saved of this iconic landmark that contains so much history and hope. Venerable spaces such as Notre Dame form bonds and connections between people of vastly different times, beliefs, experiences and backgrounds that are deeper than we realize. The connections of Notre Dame span history from Joan of Arc to Napoleon to Tulane student Kendall Gardner who witnessed Monday's tragedy firsthand.

I believe such human connections are the reason Tulanians are inspired to volunteer at the Day of Service and in numerous other ways throughout the year. I also believe it's why, despite tragedies like the Notre Dame fire and attacks on synagogues, mosques and churches across the world – including here in Louisiana – we can still find reasons to hope. And to rejoice.

Signature of Mike Fitts