Friday, April 16, 2010

live for 32.. neVer forgeT

April 16, 2007. A day no Hokie will ever forget. 
It started as a regular Monday morning as students in Blacksburg, VA were getting ready for classes. It was early so most of the kids that had classes were underclassmen (senior's wouldn't dare sign up for anything earlier than 10am). My roommate/best friend came into our apartment (less than a mile off campus) to say something was wrong. She had attempted to get on campus before class to study and saw police cars driving around with loudspeakers saying something along the lines of "Gunman on campus, stay indoors."  Immediately we tried to get in touch with anyone we knew that was on campus to figure out what was going on. We turned on the news and waited. Slowly, phone calls trickled in, news stories starting appearing and Facebook/AIM went crazy. There was a shooter on campus and 2 people in West AJ (A huge co-ed freshman dorm) had been killed.  Rumors swirled that it was a guy and a girl in a lover's quarrel, so we all thought the worst was over. Then the news started reporting another shooting with multiple victims. The casualty count rose from 1 to 4, 4 to 6, 6 to 10. We continued to frantically check AIM and Facebook. Anyone who was idle or hadn't updated their facebook, we tried calling. The poor cell phone towers in Blacksburg got jammed (much like football weekends), as family/friends from outside Blacksburg starting checking in on loved ones. My roomates and I sat with our computers in our laps watching the news in shock. Most of us had contact with at least 1 friend/family member outside of Blacksburg so they were assured we were safe. The greek community sent emails out to sororities and fraternities in an attempt to account for everyone. We received an email from someone whose dad was a police officer in Blacksburg.... it said to brace for the worst, that the casualty count on the news was was lower than what had really happened. Then the news jumped to 32 victims and we all just sat there. How could this be happening in our little town? Why here?
 The news immediately named it the "Virginia Tech Massacre" as the deadliest mass shooting in America. We watched the news for the next couple days completely in shock. We walked around campus, congregating on the drillfield to contribute to various impromptu memorials. We watched the news until we wanted to puke, then felt guilty when we weren't watching it. We stayed up as late as we could, sleeping in each other's beds for comfort and woke up thinking, "When we we feel normal again?". We heard gruesome and heroic stories from survivors. We cried for days on end, mourning the Hokies we lost. We held our friends close as we went through a range of emotions together. Some students immediately left campus for home. For me, a senior, I couldn't have been paid to leave. It had been our home for 4 years,  the greatest little town on Earth. I didn't feel any less safe. It could have happened anywhere. The University took a lot of heat for staying open after the first shootings. Many believed closing campus could have prevented the second shooting. I completely disagree, if he really wanted to do it, he would have done it the next day. And he could have done it in McBryde, an auditorium that held 500+ students. 
The Hokies showed the world how to come together as a community. They were impressed by our school spirit and kind nature, but we were just coping as best we could. We watched Air Force One land in our backyard and attended the convocation as Nikki Giovanni gave the most moving speech I had ever heard. We shocked the world by cheering "Let's Go Hokies" at every event -- it made us feel good. We are a football school and that is our way of showing our support. I had never loved Virginia Tech more. 
Looking back, it's hard to believe it's been 3 years. It's hard for me to actually sum up the impact it's had on my life. I am SO extremely proud to be a HOKIE every single day of my life. I honestly think these quotes embodies my feelings: 

"While Tech is so much more than that one moment, it is a part of who we are. We are all stronger and better because of it. We would like to think we're no longer as selfish, and certainly ready to willingly carry the memories of those we lost on that day with us forever. We have started to move on, but we will never, ever forget."
"While 32 of our friends and classmates are in Heaven trying to explain what a Hokie is, I stand here sure in the fact that I wouldn't want to be anything else." What is a hokie? I AM. 
So in closing:
"I ask each of you to take the time to be a Hokie this week. Appreciate life a little more, take in every moment around you, count your blessings, tell the people around you that you love them, slow down, remember what's truly important in life. And live for those 32 that do not have that chance."


  1. I love you! So happy you helped me get through those days! This is a really good post and even though it made me cry, it made me remember just how important life is! Love you!

  2. made me cry, remember to live for 32 every day