Personal Update on the VT Tragedy

“We cannot banish dangers, but we can banish fears. We must not demean life by standing in awe of death.” ~David Sarnoff

The list of names of the deceased has been trickling out. So far as I know, no more friends or acquaintances were injured or killed in the mayhem. Some friends-of-friends weren’t so lucky, however, as I’ve learned that we’ve lost a fellow Virginia Tech Hokie triathlete in yesterday’s massacre and another friend of mine lost many classmates in the French class that was attacked. What a terrible tragedy this is … it has affected everyone here in Blacksburg, VA. It does appear that everyone at least knows someone who knows someone involved in the horrific incident.

My friends and I went to the convocation today. There were so many people that we spilled over in the thousands into the football stadium, our lovely Lane Stadium. The acoustics were awful, but it seemed to matter very little to the crowds of students sporting their maroon-and-orange under the beautiful blue sky. It was actually nice to be in the enveloping arms of the sun’s rays. I couldn’t help but imagine how the cool breeze was like angels blowing soft kisses to us on this sad day; a day that would otherwise been described as glorious. We waited on the field, in the stands, in the bleachers … waiting to hear C. Steiger, the VT President, and then our Governor speak to us. Even George W. Bush, President of the United States, and the First Lady made an appearance in Blacksburg, VA today to give their condolences.

I went for a walk afterwards. The tone all day has been somber. The town feels vacant and depressed. Downtown businesses are closed, with handmade signs in the windows reading, “We love you VT!” and “Our condolences to all Hokies and their families.” It’s a bit like walking through a visual memoir. There are tokens and homemade memorials nearly everywhere on campus, and banks are handing out white candles to burn at the vigil happening tonight. I strolled along, reflecting on how this town and this school is both my home and not my home at the same time. There truly has been too many senseless deaths as of late …

The evening crept in and dinner seemed appropriate. Applebee’s was unusually quiet. Idle chatter and jovial laughter was noticeably absent from the air. In the background, the news relayed information about the shooter’s “morbid and grotesque” play scripts from an earlier semester. Hindsight is indeed 20/20, but you cannot arrest someone for simply expressing their ideas …

How does one look forward yet reflect back at the same time?

The VT TRIClub is debating whether or not they should still attend the USAT Collegiate Nationals. It’s coming up fast, being only 3 days away. I voted “Go.” Go show our strength and solidarity. Go show our maroon-and-orange pride. Go, if only to show that although we cannot banish dangers, we can banish fears. We must not demean life by standing in awe of death. In that we must go, if only to show we still live and in living will keep the fallen alive in our hearts of action.