Good evening. My name is Cherilyn Murer. I am honored to address you on behalf of the Board of Trustees of Northern Illinois University. I also speak to you tonight as a very proud alumni of NIU.
We are here today to honor the victims of a senseless act of violence. We are here today to pay tribute to the parents, siblings and best friends of those who died and those who were injured. We are here today to embrace one another. We are here today to show the nation the strength that is our great university – the strength that is NIU.
We are older today than we were yesterday, and with that we have lost a bit of our youth. But we have gathered wisdom and we have gained fortitude. Strength of character is developed in the face of adversity. We have been challenged, and we have responded.
Each person touched by this trauma will always carry a bit of it in their hearts. But we have a choice: a choice to succumb or to fight back. I believe we have all chosen to fight for our university, for our families, for our safety, for our children, and for ourselves.
NIU represents young men and women, parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles who have worked for an education, who have sacrificed for an education, and who take pride in the academic achievements of their sons and daughters, knowing that the hopes and dreams of each new generation are initiated through a sound education.
There is a quiet that has befallen our campus with each tear that has been shed. But tomorrow, when our students return to class, we look forward to their voices and their conviction. Youth is resilient, and NIU is committed to the future and to the safety of our students and our community.
We have been blessed with an outpouring of support and heartfelt wishes from those near and far. In particular, we want to thank the people of DeKalb and Sycamore who have been so warm and caring.
We are moving forward. We will not forget, but we will meet each challenge with a bit more compassion and a greater appreciation for the value of human kindness. My heart – our hearts – belong to Northern Illinois University … forever.