About 300 HBS students, staff, and faculty members gathered on the lawn outside the HBS Chapel Tuesday afternoon for a ceremony of reflection and shared support following the apparent terrorist attacks in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania today.
Introducing the students who led the program, MBA Program Chair Carl Kester noted the vast scope of the disaster, which is believed to have caused more than 1,000 deaths in New York City alone.
“I stand before you not knowing what to say or how to respond to today’s events,” Kester said. “The impact on lives around the country and here at HBS is so far-reaching, it’s hard to know where to begin.”
The apparent attacks are believed to have started with the hijackings of four jetliners, including two that departed from Boston’s Logan Airport this morning. Two of the jets crashed into and ultimately leveled the twin towers at New York’s World Trade Center, another crashed into the Pentagon, the headquarters of the U.S. armed forces outside Washington, and a fourth crashed into a rural area outside Pittsburgh.
Father Tom Doyle, a member of the MBA Class of 2003 who is a Roman Catholic priest and adjunct rector at Notre Dame University, opened the program by reflecting on the intangible damage done by the attacks.
“There’s a lot of talk about a sense of community here at Harvard Business School … there is a sense of belonging here that is a great gift,” he said. “What we experienced today is an affront to community. It is a loss for the world.”
Christian Hempell, another member of the Class of 2003 and the Harvard Christian Fellowship, noted in a prayer that people are “grappling with the profound evil that has happened today.”
However, like Doyle, Hemphill cited the need to remain hopeful, asking the group to “pray for the lives that are lost, and those that are still to be found.”
Then, after a song by Amanda Bourne, wife of Troy Bourne, OK, Doyle opened the microphone to any person present who wished to offer a prayer for people who might have been involved in the tragedies.
In closing, Doyle returned to a theme of hope, telling the group that “we can’t be paralyzed by fear. We can’t be afraid to trust again. We can’t become Xenophobic.”