President addresses community
President James Appleton address
City of Redlands 9/11 Remembrance
Sept. 11, 2011 Redlands Bowl
"Sheldon Solomon from Swathmore College recently stated that there is no question that September 11 “tore a gaping hole in the collectively woven American tapestry, stripping us of our shield against terror, exposing us naked to the nightmare of death; a nightmare from which we have yet to awaken.”
"I was in Salzburg, Austria at the time to view the horror of that day on a television set in a bank as I conducted the business of our beautiful Austrian Center on the Monksburg. It was shattering and unbelievable. The immediate response of the Austrians as well as we Americans was to rally round, to give support to each other, to provide scholarships for bereaved families, to show concern for those who died, to show our love for democracy and our hate of terrorism. We joined hands, one and all…
"Alas, if we are honest with ourselves, we will admit that we humans tend to engage for a time and a season in response to sensational singular events that do not touch us personally, even of the magnitude of 9/11, but then we tend to return to our patterns of life. So this is right to give voice to this remembrance. To call us back to the reality of that tragic invasion of our country, to the evidence of the violence of intercultural warfare that we must confront, and to remember that we are capable of holding the hand of our neighbor. At the University of Redlands we have had vigils on each of the subsequent years to bring the lessons of that day home to our students who will inherit the leadership of our nation. And now 10 years later, it is the right thing we are doing to bring these events once again into focus and to reflect on what we might learn.
"There are lessons that you and I might consider that might spring from this remembrance.
"First, we should affirm our support for our leaders in their efforts to rid our world of terrorism that is generated from other shores. How could one not support such efforts – from putting up with the nuisances that come from travel searches, to the cost of rooting out those who would harm us or try to destroy our freedoms. I believe strongly in our taking swift action against evil doers.
"At the same time, it is my belief that we must not let our hate of terrorism be based on an ill-defined sense of threat– a fear of the outsider–eschewing someone not just like us–of different color, or culture, or religion. Because, this ill-defined fear of the outsider whose face might be flashed on our television screens–photographed from Syria, or Pakistan, or Afghanistan, or some other faraway place - can too easily be transferred into an ill defined fear of our neighbors or fellow citizens who might have different color, culture, ethnicity, or religion. I worry about this.
"So let’s for a minute think about how we can bring the care and attention for each other that we saw in the first responders, the flag waving New Yorkers, the care of bereaved neighbors and families on 9/11, and in the weeks following, to our town… where we can make a difference every day.
"Here in Redlands, and in our region, not only for the world at large, this remembrance helps us bring to the forefront the value of our democracy that we cherish and want to preserve, and should also be used as a way to affirm that we in Redlands should seek an intercultural community, where different groups engage each other with united purpose. We should seek not a community where differences of culture, religion, or ethnicity are simply tolerated and sometimes sullenly accepted, but a community where difference is an enriching resource that leads us to a fuller understanding of what is universally true… In such a community, these differences are regarded not as dehumanizing stereotypes but as intriguing variations that we seek to understand. In so doing we enlarge both our understanding and our humanity and our hope for a future about which we can all acclaim victory.
"We need reason and restraint in the public square and a level of respect for our public officials, and we need to develop an uncommon interest in each other… to care for each other here right in Redlands. Just maybe by modeling this understanding, this reaching out beyond our differences might even extend beyond our city and region as we treat each other with worth.
"I remember September 11 with its pain and shock, and I call for us to bring hope to our city and our world by our individual actions of compassion and care."