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Dedication of the Memorial Garden

President Shirley M. Tilghman
September 13, 2003

I am honored to welcome you to this ceremony dedicating this wonderful garden to the memory of the 13 Princeton alumni who tragically lost their lives in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

How we miss them -- as family members and friends, as classmates and Princetonians. This garden can't bring them back, but it can ensure that they will never be forgotten on this campus that shaped and enriched each of their lives. This garden, and its eloquent inscription, remind us of two of the things those honored here have in common: they are all Princetonians, and they all lost their lives, along with more than 3,000 others, on one of the most horrific days we have ever known.

Two years ago, at the memorial service that many of you attended, I said that our goal in planning this garden was to "identify a beautiful and peaceful and living place where the names of these 13 Princetonians can be memorialized for all time," and that we hoped it would "become a place not only of remembrance, but of reflection and renewal -- a place where their flames can be kept alive and their spirits can be at peace."

I hope you will come to believe that we have succeeded. In this beautiful alcove, surrounded by our new humanities center and looking directly at Nassau Hall, we have drawn on the solidity and strength of stone, wood and bronze and on the regenerative capacity of plant life to communicate both permanence and continuous renewal. The garden is just off one of the most heavily used walkways of our campus -- a direct link from town into gown -- and yet it is sheltered in ways that provide comfort and encourage reflection. We believe that because of its design it will become a place of quiet refuge, and it will serve as a constant reminder of those honored here and the terrible events that brought their lives to such a tragic and untimely end.

The principal architect of this garden is Jon Hlafter, a member of the Class of 1961 and for many years the Director of Physical Planning here at the University. I know Jon would tell you that this was a true labor of love, inspired as he sat on the back porch of West College watching the P-Rade some 15 months ago. He reflected on the ways in which we have used stars over many generations to mark the dormitory rooms of alumni who gave their lives in service to their country. Our country's first stars and stripes flag had 13 stars in a circle, and that concept inspired the earliest stages of the design of the garden.

The garden was a collaboration between Jon and his staff and Quennell Rothschild and Partners, our landscape architects. The garden itself was created by our own grounds and buildings staffs. The stone for the benches came from inside the buildings behind the garden -- East Pyne and Chancellor Green -- as they were being renovated, and the flagstone is all cut from pieces that previously were part of walkways throughout the campus. The plantings, I might note, are not yet all in place -- there will be additional plantings in front of the steps to note the fact that the steps will no longer be in use and may be another tree or two added.

The bronze bell that marks the entrance to the garden was created by a remarkable woman, Toshiko Takaezu, a ceramist, weaver and painter who retired from Princeton in 1992 after teaching for a quarter of a century in our Visual Arts program. Her work has been exhibited throughout the world and is part of the permanent exhibits of museums such as the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Boston's Museum of Fine Arts and the Smithsonian. In presenting her with an honorary degree in 1996, we described her as an "artist of exceptional gifts," but also as a "generous and inspiring teacher, mentor and role model ... [who] has encouraged generations of Princeton students to use their creative powers not only to mold and sculpt ... but also to shape and center their lives."

Toshiko has asked me to convey her great disappointment at not being here with us today and her great pride in being associated with this very special project. Her bell, like this garden, is a space that is both enclosed and open; a well-designed space that is silent and serene most of the time, and yet capable of resonance and reverberation. She calls her bell "Remembrance," and she says that what most appeals to her is its color (which you will find reflected in the roofs of East Pyne and Nassau Hall) and its deep and resonant sound when struck. You will have an opportunity to hear it at the conclusion of this ceremony.

Finally, I want to thank Margaret Miller and her colleagues in the Alumni Council for the many roles they have played in helping to plan and prepare this garden and in planning today's ceremony. I am very pleased that the volunteer leadership of the Council is here today, representing the extended Princeton family, all around the world, as we dedicate this truly sacred space.

In reflecting on the lessons of her life, Toshiko once said: "You can't just throw a seed and say, 'grow.' Like anything else, if you want to do it well, you have to get involved. You have to pull the weeds, feed and water the plants. You have to give attention and be sympathetic. You have to put part of yourself into it."

The family members and classmates here today, and the University itself, put part of themselves into each of the alumni we honor in this garden. We were involved in their lives. We helped them grow, and they in turn left their marks on us. We remained intertwined for all time, and this lovely garden ensures that this is something we shall never forget.


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