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Reflecting on September 11

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Dear Colleagues,

It’s sobering to remember that on a bright, sunny September morning nearly 20 years ago, our nation’s freedoms and values found themselves under attack. Although it has been two decades, the wounds are still fresh, and made all the more raw this year as we watch the situation unfolding in Afghanistan. We must not forget the thousands of lives lost since September 11, 2001, including the 13 military members who died recently, completing the mission the United States embarked upon 20 years ago. Their sacrifice on behalf of all Americans and in defense of Afghan people opened new possibilities to a generation growing up in safety here at home and abroad. 

Our country and the world were forever changed on September 11, 2001. At Duke, we lost six alumni. And many of the more than 1,000 veterans who work at Duke served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Through shock, grief and pain, we found solace in each other. We kept moving. Our flag continued to wave. Our nation remained standing.

This September 11, we find ourselves facing a medical crisis as the Delta variant causes an increase in COVID-19 infections. This is a different threat to our health and freedom than the one we faced 20 years ago, but the path forward is paved with similar principles. Let’s be inspired by the courageous example of our veterans. Let’s be leaders in this fight through modeling safe behavior and supporting our colleagues on the healthcare front lines.

In these challenging times, your well-being is our top priority. Through our Personal Assistance Service, please know that resources exist to help care for your physical and emotional health. Duke Raleigh Hospital and Wake County-based team members can call Business Health Services at 800-327-2251. And if you are a veteran, a comprehensive list of support services can be found here. Please continue to carve out some time for reflection and self-care. 

The actions of a few on September 11 forever altered the lives of so many. But, by consciously choosing kindness, compassion and respect, we can stand united in love over hate, goodness over evil, and light over darkness.

Sincerely,

A. Eugene Washington, M.D.
Chancellor for Health Affairs, Duke University
President and CEO, Duke University Health System

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