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Dr. Lee T. Todd Jr.,
University of Kentucky,
addresses 6,000 faculty, staff and students at Friday's National Prayer and Remembrance Ceremony.

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Transcript of President Lee T. Todd Jr.'s remarks at the Sept. 14, 2001 ceremony at the University of Kentucky marking the National Day of Prayer and Remembrance

I can't help but say I think we all look at that flag a little differently today.

This has been a very sad and difficult period in the life of the many of us and of this nation. The acts of terror that we've witnessed have shocked us to our core; have left us feeling empty and we stand bewildered and appalled at the face of the destruction and death that we have witnessed this week.

The University of Kentucky community joins this nation in mourning the tragic events of this week. Our hearts and our thoughts reach out to those who have lost fathers and sons, mothers and daughters. Friends, co-workers and relatives. We share that sense of loss that has descended on this country.

Our thoughts and our prayers continue to be with those victims that need healing. We all feel for those people we see on TV every night who are waiting to hear from their loved ones. The anxiety, the despair and the emptiness. And we want them to know that we think of them as well.

I think we all have to express a real debt of gratitude to the volunteers who are having to work and physically touch the environment that we only watch from a distance. And how they do that I do not know, but I pray for their strength.

I must say that I am immensely pleased with the way that this university family is responding. The stories I'm hearing and reading about our students and our faculty and our staff and our alumni such as the candlelight vigils, the blood and the financial donations, the personal counseling, the volunteerism, the generous offers of expert advice and assistance to anyone who needs it. These are truly gratifying and they make us all feel proud. Thank you for those.

We as a nation are comprised of people from a multitude of national, racial and religious origins. And this mix has created a country that offers great hope to a world that cherishes freedom and liberty. And we who live and work on this campus are a small community and we must reflect the very best of what that nation stands for that we cherish. The principles upon which our nation was built include tolerance, civility, unity and mutual support.

So too with our university. We at UK must continue to be an institution that protects and constantly represents those values. During this period of national and international turmoil, the University of Kentucky must and will continue to stand together as a strong community where each member feels protected and safe. We must be committed to support and show compassion to one another -- and to demonstrate that ours is truly a nation committed to equality and fairness, without regard to race or religion.

Throughout its history, this great country has consistently risen to challenges that have faced it. I'm confident -- as I'm sure you are -- that our national character will overcome even this adversity. And I'm equally confident that the University of Kentucky will continue to prove itself to be a community that recognizes the value of every student, faculty member and staff member and every member of this campus.

All across this nation today, people are taking this day of prayer and remembrance as an opportunity to reflect on this crisis. The crisis the country is now enduring and to begin a process of healing and to recover from this.

Against that grand scale of all our fellow peoples recognizing this occasion, our university's moment of grieving together is a brief and quiet experience, one that is the kind that close families and open communities need at times like this. Small but yet it is a vital moment in the life of this university because it recognizes that while our essential missions of discovery, education and service will be maintained, we also need to respond to a deeper calling, one that summonses us to sustain our humanity and our courage at a time when both are being tested.

Our presence today -- and I thank you so much for your attendance -- symbolizes a resolve to answer that call both as individuals and as a community. I thank you very much for coming today.

And now I would like to ask that you join hands and let's stand together as a University of Kentucky community in a moment of silence to honor the memory of those people who have lost their lives and also for all of those who have suffered from this week's situation.

Thank you. God bless America.

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