OLD GOLD--Nov. 1, 1991: Compassion at a time of adversity

The horrific events of Nov. 1, 1991, reflected upon elsewhere in this issue of Spectator, remind us of the fragility of our world and our lives. They also remind us, 20 years later, of the unlimited capacity of human compassion.

In the days and weeks following the shootings, the Department of Physics and Astronomy in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences received hundreds of cards, letters, and other expressions of sympathy. These came from friends, colleagues, and professional organizations from throughout the U.S. and the world, an outpouring of condolence and support that arrived eventually at the University Archives. Today the messages remind us of that generosity of spirit.

This month Old Gold yields his column to those whose thoughts and kindnesses helped lift others in a time of need:

We were deeply shocked that such an incident could take place in such a peaceful setting as Iowa. Unfortunately, such violence has become a daily part of many of our lives. Still, it does not diminish the pain and suffering that it causes. I know that there is nothing we can do to bring back their loved ones; however, we can hope that steps will be taken to reduce the chances of this happening again. We will keep them in our prayers and hope that the healing process can begin quickly.
Ronald Harten, General Electric Company

Realize that in the Washington, D.C., area that there are hundreds of people who have been personally touched by these events and that we all are thinking about all of you in the Physics and Astronomy Department. Washington cannot be unique and there are thousands or tens of thousands around the world who are thinking about you and your losses. Love from all of us to all of you.
Bill Taylor, NASA

On behalf of every one of us here, we send our condolences for all concerned. We have not been thinking or talking about anything else since we heard the news. We are shocked, angered, devastated, and we must feel only a fraction of the pain of what you must feel.
Chris Russell, UCLA

I convey to the Department the shock and dismay of the faculty and students of our Department of Geophysics and Planetary Sciences. Although most of them did not know the victims personally, many had read their papers and all share the grief of the community at the loss of valued colleagues. At today’s departmental colloquium I delivered a brief eulogy.
Arkee Eviatar, Tel Aviv University

Our membership observed a moment of silence in sympathy with your loss of colleagues and friends at our National Assembly of delegates this past week in Washington, D.C. Each and every one will be sorely missed. … We convey our expression of gratitude that we were able to know and appreciate both the friendship and scientific contributions of our colleagues in Iowa who gave of themselves to their community and to humankind.
Rita R. Colwell, president, Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society

We are shocked by the tragedy that has occurred. Besides our enormous sense of grief, our department is ready to extend help to you in any way that could be of benefit. Several faculty members have approached me and have stated that they are prepared to go directly to Iowa City and to spend a week or two to help you meet your needs in this difficult period. … Our department shares your mourning.
Marshall Luban, chair, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Iowa State University

—David McCartney, University Archivist

A sample of letters and cards received by the Department of Physics and Astronomy following the Nov. 1, 1991, tragedyA sample of letters and cards received by the Department of Physics and Astronomy following the Nov. 1, 1991, tragedy [Records of the Department of Physics (RG 06.28), University Archives, Department of Special Collections, University of Iowa Libraries]

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Wonderland for winter:
The skating lagoon

Wonderland for winter: The skating lagoon

Source—F.W. Kent Collection of Photographs (RG 30.01.01), Scenes University of Iowa Campus series: West campus scenes folder, University Archives, Department of Special Collections, University of Iowa Libraries

If you’ve got memories to share, please send them to Spectator and we’ll run some next month.

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