On a Tuesday morning, 20 years ago tomorrow, we all watched, in horror, as airplanes were turned into weapons. We will never forget the first reports that a plane had hit one of the World Trade Center Towers in New York. We watched as a second plane hit the second tower, live on national television. We knew we were under attack as live images of the attack on the Pentagon came in. We learned about the bravery ingrained in the American people as news broke from a farm in Pennsylvania.
However, on that terrible day, we also saw the best humanity has to offer. We saw strangers take people in off the street. First responders didn’t hesitate to rush into buildings to save as many lives as possible. People, across the country, stood in line to give blood.
For most of us, scenes like these are from countries far away. War-torn parts of the world that we’ll never experience. However, these images are the reality for men and women in the military. We are proud of the many staff, students and faculty who are active military or who have served in the armed forces. The fear we felt that day is one their families experience constantly.
The 20th Anniversary of 9/11 is a sobering reminder to all of us of the sacrifice of some many of our friends, family, colleagues, and neighbors.
Many of our colleagues are veterans. We know that anniversaries such as this can be a time of extreme difficulty. To veterans on our call today – Thank you. Thank you for your sacrifice. Thank you for your service. Thank you for your dedication to our country. If there is anything we can do to support you, please let us know.
Here at Eastern Gateway, first responders make up some of our largest student populations. Of course, during the days, weeks and months following 9/11, firefighters, EMTs, and police officers were at the front of our minds as crews from around the country traveled to New York City to join their brothers and sisters in the recovery efforts.
Today, as we face another crisis where first responders are frontline heroes, we expand that group to include nurses, respiratory therapists, and other health care professions. I am incredibly proud of our students who choose these professions.
I encourage you all to take some time this weekend to thank a veteran and/or first responder for their service or participate in an act of community service.
Eastern Gateway Community College
Dear EGCC Students, Staff and Faculty:
George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor joined the names of too many innocent Black Americans who have died from a disease that has infected the very fiber of our country for too long. As the leader of a diverse college community and an employer, I have spent time considering how we can effectively add our voice to the calls for racial justice.
We can not let this moment in history pass without having difficult, uncomfortable and deeply necessary conversations about implicit bias, microaggressions, racism, equality, human dignity and cultural change.
Our leadership team, including me, believes that engaging in discussions about social and racial justice is a moral imperative and central to our mission as a community college. We exist to address the needs of our communities and to provide the skills, tools and resources people need to improve their lives for the better. We have to be the voice for those that have been trying to be heard. We have to listen to those who speak up against injustice in our Black community. Until we stand united with the Black community, we cannot overcome racism in America. In the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
We support everyone’s First Amendment right to peacefully assemble. We denounce all acts of violence, even during protests. We ask that if you protest, you do so legally, peacefully, and mindful that everyone wants to get home safe.
As for EGCC, it’s time to listen. We are establishing an email address for students, staff and faculty to tell us their hopes, fears, concerns, questions or ideas on how we can facilitate conversations and actions. That email is [email protected]. I will take the next few weeks to read and reflect on the feedback we receive, and I will work across EGCC to move forward on next steps to make a difference.
EGCC is as diverse as the communities we serve. Our students come from all 50 states and represent every race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age group and economic background. We will continue to make our campuses – both physical and virtual – a safe and inclusive space for everyone.
Interim President and Chief Financial Officer
Eastern Gateway Community College