As we reach the anniversary of Salem’s evacuation and move to remote, I am so moved by each of you.
I remember a gathering—our last “public” one—which brought together campus leaders, parents, and more. I can see in my mind’s eye those moments, the peculiarity of hand sanitizer being passed along with a microphone, for example. I can see earlier meetings where we sought to sit far enough from one another to move to decisions. I have re-read emails about what classes might become and the logistics of getting possessions to one another including to those who had left without knowing how long—how very long—it would be before our campus welcomed us again as a full community.
I watched and learned from leaders—each of whom deserves to be called out for all they did those days, weeks, and months a year ago. We joked about words that kept repeating—unprecedented—and knew that this was not what any of us expected to encounter in the second decade of the 21st century.
I feel the echoes—in my heart, my mind, my body. I suspect you do too.
The echoes are not merely the echoes of a pandemic but reminders of the ongoing need to say the names of people like Breonna Taylor—who was killed on March 13 of that very same weekend that we evacuated—reminding us that these issues too require us to step forward. In this year of existential challenge, justice demands we act as well to change the systems within which we live.
Over the next few days, I ask that we each stop to express our gratitude to those who helped each of us get this far. I ask that we be fair to ourselves and others and recognize what and perhaps who we have lost and what we have required of one another to get here. I ask that we say to ourselves and to each other how very hard this has been and how amazed we are at how much time has passed. I ask that we remember to stop—to mourn as needed—and then to move forward with care and strength. We will never again live in a world without this year and who we have become.