|Dear Fellow 'Canes:|
Twenty years ago today, the world changed. Many of our current students were infants or not yet born on that fateful morning two decades ago. Yet, for many of us—and indeed for the human family—the events of 9/11 are etched in our memory.
September 11, 2001 was a harsh welcoming into the 21st Century. It was a moment in which we had to recognize that when hopelessness takes root—even on the other side of the planet—it has devastating repercussions for all of us. It was also a moment when evil palpably raised its head and the world responded, together.
In the years since, tens of thousands of brave service members from the United States and its allies around the globe, have sacrificed to advance a shared ideal: that no matter our background or geographic location, human beings deserve to live free from the threat of terrorism.
One month after the 9/11 attacks, as Mexico’s then-secretary of health, I found myself delivering a keynote address at the Commonwealth Fund’s International Symposium on Health Care Policy in Washington, D.C. That night, I called for a renewal of international cooperation to address global threats.
I noted on that occasion that U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair was correct in his assessment that the best memorial for those who lost their lives on September 11th would be “a new beginning, where we seek to resolve differences in a calm and ordered way; greater understanding between nations and between faiths; and above all justice and prosperity for the dispossessed, so that people everywhere can see the chance of a better future through the hard work and creative power of the free citizen, not the violence and savagery of the fanatic.”
My point was that there is a common thread that unites all of humanity. At our best, we protect each other against our common frailty—something that the health, economic, and social crises of the past year and a half have certainly laid bare. At our worst, fear and ignorance divide us.
Today, as we pause to reflect on September 11th, I am encouraged. Because just as the darkness of 9/11 casts a long shadow which has colored everything that has happened since then, the courage and compassion of our first responders that day—and on countless occasions since then—remind us of our human potential.
We in South Florida get regular glimpses of heroism. In our vulnerability to natural disasters, on at least an annual basis we witness how first responders prioritize our common good, relying on one another to help us all.
This year, they have been tested in unparalleled ways. From being on the front lines of the pandemic to waging tireless efforts to rescue victims at the Surfside building collapse to responding to gun violence and social unrest, our first responders have shown us what is possible when we work together to overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges. We are forever indebted to the remarkable people who turn havoc into hope.
On behalf of the entire University of Miami community, I am honored to express our gratitude to first responders and service members for their powerful model of sacrifice, as we remember those we lost on September 11th and the many whose lives have been forever changed by the events of that day.
We are one U.