Tuesday, April 17, 2007

April 16, 2007.

I’m sure everyone has heard by now of the recent shootings at my alma mater, Virginia Tech. I have kept up with the news almost more than I’d like – I tried playing the radio for a few minutes yesterday on my drive home, but as I sat at a red light and had even a couple of seconds to think of it, I couldn’t help turning the station back to NPR. I’ve been largely stunned for the last day or so, but I feel compelled to say something about it now - if only for catharsis, as I’ve been more deeply affected by this than I would have imagined.

I don’t feel that I can comment on the person who caused this, not simply because I cannot fathom the cause of what he did, but also because I can’t yet bring myself to focus on what might lie beneath such a monstrous act. If I’m honest with myself, I also feel that the only people deserving of any attention at all right now are the victims and their families and friends; the rest will inevitably come soon. I’m not sure anyone will be able to attach reason to something like this - most of us are only beginning to understand the depth of its impact.

As an undergraduate I spent three of my happiest years at Tech growing into the person I am now, and part of my heart still remains in Blacksburg, Virginia. Though the story as it could have happened on any campus fills me with sadness, the part of me which loves the place itself is shattered. I really did not know how tied I was to that campus, or how much I had invested myself in the years I spent there, but it seems to me now that neither I nor the place I knew will be quite the same after this. Some aspect of that bucolic little town has surely been lost, along with my memory of it as such – but the students who experienced this firsthand lost far more than merely a memory. In all cases, what was lost cannot be replaced.

So I count myself among the mourners now, if perhaps from a distance, and place my heart with all the rest of those who were devastated by this tragedy. To my friends in Blacksburg, in particular, my thoughts remain with you – all of us from Tech share your grief and sadness. It’s clear that the community we shared is still alive and well, if deeply shaken, and all of us will continue to lend our support in the difficult days ahead.

If nothing else, I feel more acutely than ever the appreciation for the time I spent at Tech and the friends I met there – they’re the reason that Tech was such a marvelous part of my life. It was, and is, a wonderful place because of its people. As an undergrad I never believed I was much for “school spirit,” but I realize that’s because I didn’t really understand what it meant.

As silly as it might sound, I was, and will always remain, a Hokie.


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