Governor on Tree of Life Memorial

EDITOR’S NOTE: Text of remarks delivered Sunday, Oct. 28, 2018 by Gov. Roy Cooper at the Tree of Life interfaith memorial vigil at Beth Meyer Synagogue in Raleigh, N.C.

Good evening. I am honored and humbled to be with you tonight. I wish we were gathered for a different reason.

Like all of you, my heart sank when I heard about this shooting and the details started to trickle in. As people of faith, it’s difficult to imagine ourselves gathered in prayer only to be interrupted by unspeakable horror. But it has happened.

And as we see and hear about these precious people and their families, sorrow, frustration and anger invade the soul. It is here, in this place and amongst these people where we seek peace and strength.

The freedom to live and worship without fear is essential, and yesterday’s act of violence strikes at the very heart of our country’s greatness. But we cannot allow terrorism in any form to stifle the work of good and righteous people. We must continue to gather in prayer.  To better our communities. A nd to repair our world.

Tonight and going forward, we will continue to grieve the lives of those lost. Eleven souls taken from us abruptly, leaving behind a community of mourners who will honor their names, tell their stories, say Kaddish and sit shiva.

While there is a time for mourning, there will also come a time for action. Action to fight anti-Semitism, hatred and bigotry in all its forms. Action to change the policies and divisiveness that have made such mass murders all too common in our country.

The increase in hate speech that we’ve seen in recent months is alarming. It is unacceptable. And it is a wake up call for everyone. It is more clear than ever that no one can sit idly by and let violent hatred run rampant.

Like the Jewish mourner’s Kaddish, a prayer which is not intended to be said alone – neither shall we take action alone, but rather together, hand-in-hand.

May the memory of those killed be for a blessing – and so much more. May their memory be for courage. Strength. Action. And healing.

May we join together to honor their lives, to unite as a nation, as a state, as a community and most importantly – as people. To recognize the humanity in each other. To quash bigotry and show that hatred and prejudice will find no quarter in our society.

May God bless the victims and their families and may God bless North Carolina and the United States of America.