Good evening. I am saddened by the occasion but honored to appear before you.
I know my good friend, Sycamore Mayor Ken Mundy, joins me in expressing our community’s grief and in offering consolation to those we have lost. Our thoughts are with their families and with those injured.
Each year, on happier occasions, we welcome new and returning students to NIU. We open our homes and offer our support and friendship to NIU students.I remember how this community welcomed me when I arrived as a new student in 1957. I am proud that the warmth and friendship I experienced continue to this very day.
Tonight, under different circumstances, we welcome and open our arms again to NIU students. Many of you left for the emotional comfort of your homes and your families after this tragedy of unspeakable proportions. Tonight’s return is like none you, the university or the community has ever experienced.
For our part, it requires the very best the residents of DeKalb and Sycamore can offer. We have witnessed the outpouring of grief from the community. We have witnessed the outpouring of support the community has offered you and NIU.
This institution and the DeKalb/Sycamore community are so vitally and emotionally intertwined that we are ultimately one and the same. NIU students are part of every family here and are citizens of DeKalb, as well as their own hometowns.
I offer our condolences to the family and friends of those who died, as well as prayers for those injured. Our sympathy is also offered to all who have shared this pain, to the students, alumni, faculty, and the administration of NIU. We greatly admire your courage, leadership and resilience during these trying times.
I must also thank the emergency responders and caregivers, police, fire, emergency medical forces, and hospital workers, all of whom moved so quickly and so professionally.
Forward, together forward are words with many personal meanings to me as a student, as a member of the NIU faculty, and now speaking for the city. Tonight, these words are especially poignant. They sum up our confidence that NIU and the community will move forward together as one while always remembering the sadness we now feel for those we lost.