On Sept. 11, 2001, breaking news of terrorist attacks claiming thousands of lives brought shock and sadness to campus, including word of 12 alumni who died that tragic day. But the campus community’s resiliency and resolve shone through, as a huge crowd turned out for a candlelight vigil. Below are President Deborah F. Stanley’s remarks from that emotional night -- 20 years ago.

How wonderful that you have come tonight, to be here standing in a virtual embrace, signifying the awesome breadth and depth of this magnificent Oswego State community. 

“When evil men plot, good men must plan.  When evil men shout ugly words of hatred, good men must commit themselves to the glories of love.”  These are the words of an American hero, Dr. Martin Luther King. In our horror of today, while we are filled with shock and sorrow and even anger – it is prudent that we also exercise great care and show great love. Tonight I pray that we truly commit ourselves to the “glories of love.”

First, commit to love for each other. In your generosity and compassion for those suffering in loss and confusion, share their pain; offer your strength and support, and give comfort and attention. Hold one another close while we grieve for the enormous wound of today. 

Also, resolve to pursue your love of truth. We are horrified by these events – – and we want to strike out blindly to retaliate. Yet we must come to terms with the deeper truth that the causes of terrorism can be combated only by our humanity—as expressed in our understanding of others. To reach that understanding we will necessarily need to search for answers, answers that lead to the justice and reason we must supply to the world that lies ahead of us from this day forward.  

And, certainly, live in love of faith. We must struggle against the urge to capitulate to those who seek to shroud our lives in chaos and fear. We are a brave culture—we have the courage to be free and honorable. These ideals are still and have always been our gift to the world.  We must find the courage to be Americans and to live up to all that it requires! 

Martin Luther King, Jr. also said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Light is a symbol of love, a symbol of knowledge, and also a symbol of truth. Tonight, in solidarity, we hold our candles to drive out the darkness of the night and in our world. Yet, you know the light that you hold is but a flicker in comparison to the light from within your hearts and souls. Your light from within can banish the darkness, and when we stand together, in a great glow of illumination, may it be the power of good over evil. 

Read more about remembrances of our 12 alumni lost and campus recognition.