Dear Carolina Community,
Tomorrow, we join our nation in remembering those we lost 20 years ago on September 11. Like so many of you, I can remember exactly where I was on that September morning. I was teaching a class, “Therapeutic Modalities” in Fetzer Hall. I had family on two separate flights that morning leaving Chapel Hill, and I know the fear I felt for their safety was shared by everyone that day. I joined thousands of Carolina community members the next day who gathered on Polk Place to mourn and remember.
On that day, we lost six members of our Tar Heel alumni community: Karleton Fyfe ’92, Mary Lou Hague ’96, Andrew King ’83, Ryan Kohart ’98, Dora Menchaca ’78 (MSPH) and Christopher Quackenbush ’79. We honor and remember them and their families. And, we will always be grateful to the thousands of firefighters, police officers and service members who put their lives on the line and those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
For many of our students, you were born after the September 11 attacks, yet these attacks have shaped the world in which you have grown up. September 11 burst the illusion for many Americans that global issues have little impact on our daily lives. Our world is interconnected, and at Carolina, we are committed to being a global university and engaging with world leaders. Former ambassador to Afghanistan Ronald Neumann joined colleagues and students last evening on our campus for the 2021 American Academy of Diplomacy Sisco Memorial Forum. Over dinner, he talked about the fragility of democracy in our world and the importance of diplomacy and collective action needed for change. At Carolina, the next generation of leaders are preparing to participate in this collective action, and I am proud of their passion and commitment.
It’s impossible to think about September 11 without also reflecting on the recent events in Afghanistan. I know that the withdrawal has affected the lives of our military community, including our veterans, those on active duty or those of you who have loved ones who have served. The Carolina Veterans Resource Center has been working with military-connected students to provide support.
At tomorrow’s football game, we will remember September 11 and pay tribute to the many people who have served our country. For those of you attending the game, I urge everyone to wear a mask to protect themselves and our fellow Tar Heels. UNC Athletics will be passing out masks at the gates. Campus Health is offering free COVID-19 vaccinations at the game as well, and anyone who gets the vaccine will also receive two free tickets to an upcoming Carolina home football game. I want to thank Ken Pittman and members of our Campus Health team for providing this service to the broader community.
On 9/11, we came together as a community. We are in the middle of another difficult time now. In both instances, I have seen how our students, faculty and staff have sacrificed and supported each other. It is a community I am proud to be a part of, 20 years ago and today.
Kevin M. Guskiewicz