We mark the passage of time by anniversaries, giving special significance to those that signal the passing of decades and quarter-centuries. As our nation prepares to mark the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on America on 9/11, our campus community honors the memory of that horrific day by doing what we do best as an academic community and bringing our collective talents of faculty, students, staff and alumni to reflect in an open, calm, serious and thoughtful way on the significance of that day. The Robert T. Matsui Center for Politics and Public Service dedicated its annual forum to examining how America was changed by the tragedy of 9/11. Some of our scholars have offered their thoughts on the Berkeley Blog and in other fora. The Daily Cal has prepared a special commemorative issue.
This Sunday, we will honor both the dead and the living survivors as we remember the more than 3000 people who lost their lives that day, those who sacrificed to save lives, and those whose loss and pain will never be fully abated. Among those who died was our own alumnus Mark Bingham ’93 who perished defending our country on United Airlines Flight 93. Each year we honor his memory by giving the Mark Bingham award to a young Cal alumnus or alumna at Charter Banquet. We also honor those who have been fighting to protect our country since 9/11 by welcoming veterans onto our campus. This year we have over 300 student veterans at UC Berkeley.
As we look back over the past ten years and think about how our lives have been changed by this event, including the two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that are still ongoing, we can take comfort in America’s resilience. While our country has a duty to remain vigilant in our efforts to protect our citizens, 9/11 has reaffirmed the importance of our global interconnectedness and the need for us to work together for a better world including with our Muslim brothers and sisters around the world. As one of the world’s pre-eminent universities, UC Berkeley is committed through its mission of teaching, research and public service to working for a better future for us all.
In his famous poem “In Memoriam,” Alfred Lord Tennyson calls for the remembrance of death to move us onto noble ends. May the memory of 9/11 on this tenth anniversary inspire us to continue to use our many talents to seek a more peaceful and globally prosperous world.
Robert J. Birgeneau,