Russell L. Nichols
Fall Convocation Address
September 27, 2001

{1}Let me say a word about the Fall Convocation in general - - and this one in particular.

{2}When we renewed this ceremony a few years ago, we did so for two or three purposes. We wanted you seniors to know the importance of academic ritual to the meaning of a classical liberal arts education. We wanted new students to feel a warm reception in this strange and new home, sometimes a long way from your family home. We hoped that all of us could develop a unity, a strong sense of loyalty to Hanover - - without exhibiting the least bit of institutional arrogance to any visitor at any time. Pride in who we are and what we do - - but true openness to welcoming new friends, from anywhere, with respect and graciousness.

{3}We talk about our responsibility to take care of ourselves, to take care of our Hanover home, and to take care of each other.

{4}I think we have done pretty well . . . but that was during the easy times . . . prior to September 11.

{5}Now, it seems to me that what we wanted for our Hanover community we now need for our national community: strong loyalty among those in the community balanced with real respect toward our friends who are our guests from other cultures. We talk about Hanover loyalty without arrogance. Can we translate that to national patriotism without prejudice?

{6}This occasion this morning gives us the chance to reflect, individually, on what it means to be a virtuous citizen in an international community. How you . . . and I . . . individually decide to reach out to the new Hanover students will measure us as well as make the basis for a stronger Hanover.

{7}Likewise, how you and I individually take care of our guests from other cultures will be singularly important to their future . . . and to our own self respect.

{8}In troubling times American express patriotism, as we should. Expressing that patriotism in healthy ways, like helping the September 11 victims and their families, is honorable. I am proud of what many of you have done.

{9}That patriotism, however, will prove to be tarnished if it includes unfair actions toward guests in our Hanover community or our American community. In the days ahead we each will have the chance to see if we are virtuous citizens, able to judge ideas and actions on their merits - - without pre-judging either ideas or people.

{10}I hope to look back on this most troubling time with pride in our college and in our country . . . and with the satisfaction that I personally got to know a new and good friend from another background, who shares my hope for peace and justice. You might want to try the same exercise.

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