Marcellette G. Williams was Chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, 2001-2002.
This is an archive of the Chancellor's Web site during her tenure.

Office of the Chancellor, University of Massachusetts Amherst
UMass Home | Chancellor Home | September 11 Updates > UMass Community Remembrance

John Sheehan
- SGA President

UMass Community Remembrance Remarks
September 14, 2001
Campus Pond - University of Massachusetts Amherst

Today, I’m going to try to come up with the right words. I love being the one who is able to provide comfort, I love being the person that can make pain or a problem go away with the correct words or good hug, I love having the answers. But when I reflect on the past few days, when I try to make sense of things in my head in an attempt to reach an even semi-cathartic peace, I’m blank.

I try to delve into those parts of myself where that peace is usually found, but wherever I look, all I can conjure is surreal image after surreal image brought straight to me for my digestion over a closed circuit. I watch the television for news briefs and get drawn into some dream-like trance. I catch myself in this state from time to time, and when I snap out of it, the only intelligible thought that comes to me is, "Is this real?" I can’t make sense of this, I feel strange intellectualizing about the proper repercussions or pondering changes in foreign policy because all I can think of is that people are dead… and I can’t understand why.

None of us can…I don’t know where this is leading me, but I do know that it led me here…it led all of us here. It led us all here Tuesday night when 4,000 people came together to admit to ourselves that we don’t have all the answers, that we’re hurt, that we’re afraid. Tuesday, our collective bubble was popped and we learned something. I learned something. I learned that yes, I’m American, and I hurt for my lost countrymen, bur more so, I learned that I’m human. I learned we’re not as untouchable as we thought, I felt scared, I learned what it felt like to be on the other side of the news graphic when we watch bombs shatter others lives from oceans away. Tuesday, September 11th, each of us were humbled.

So here we stand today, only three days later, still aching for our lost brothers and sisters, still asking ourselves from time to time did this really happen?… still standing here together as a community, because I think we’ve realized for the first time in a while, that that’s exactly what we are. And when we lose individuals that make our collective worlds a better place, the whole community shares in and suffers from that loss. And that’s why we’re here, in loving and solemn remembrance for the brothers and sisters that we lost on Tuesday. We’re here to feel for one another, we’re here to remember, we’re here for commemoration. Something brought us here today, something led you to stand here this afternoon amongst friends. Don’t lose this, don’t forget how you felt on Tuesday, don’t forget how you feel right now. If we can do that, if we can live in this moment or carry it with us, then we can truly honor our lost brothers and sisters.





Marcellette G. Williams

University of Massachusetts
Amherst, MA 01003

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This page last updated September 14, 2001