Saturday, April 18, 2009
This week was a very special and sad time for Virginia Tech. We are nearing the end of the semester here and students are getting excited about graduation, spring weather, and summer opportunities. Some of the students in the class I TA have accepted wonderful job offers and have been driving to go sign contracts and leases, which in this economy is a great accomplishment. In general- people are uplifted.
That changed this Thursday, April 16. I cannot even imagine how the campus atmosphere was altered two years ago as 32 innocent people were killed on the campus on an otherwise average day at school. The outpouring of support and sense of community here has been incredible since I arrived here last fall, and this Thursday was no exception.
As I woke up in the morning, I was blown away by the hundreds of people covering the front of campus, participating in a walk/run to remember the victims. I spent the noon hour with a friend who was on campus when it happened. One of my students had told me on Wednesday that at the time, he lived on the floor above where the killing began. It was a horrible reminder of just how many people were touched by what happened. During the noon ceremony, the families of the victims as well as the injured students were escorted to special seating. Administrators read short biographies of the people who lost their lives two years ago. It was impossible to hold back emotion as you heard about each person- a Holocaust survivor, brilliant civil engineering graduate students, a skilled horsewoman, dedicated teachers. I was filled with frustration and anger at the senseless nature of it all. These people happened to attend class on April 16 and experienced something that no one else will understand. Imagine listening to the stories of 32 people and hearing the wonderful things they had done and planned to do. It is in some sad way a great example of the opportunities VT offers to its students and the close ties students and alumni have with this school.
Even though people have healed, they will never forget.