Until a few days ago, all of my memories that involved both great tragedy and Virginia Tech were focused on one day in the beginning of my Sophomore year. I remember coming back from breakfast at Dietrick to my dorm room in Pritchard hall to news of disaster involving an airplane and the World Trade Center. The residents on my hall and I watched CNN as another plane slammed into the other tower and the two buildings eventually crumbled, throwing our whole country into a state of terror and confusion.
Now, five and a half years later, I am dealing once again with an unimaginable tragedy happening a couple of hundred miles away from where I currently am, but involves a place and a community that I love and feel deeply connected to. Again, all I can do is watch the around-the-clock news with undivided attention, hoping for just another clue to figure out why somebody could feel so much hate toward something I hold so dear that it would drive them to murder and destruction.
At first, I didn't think this would affect me very much. I graduated almost three years ago, and I thought that maybe my ties with Virginia Tech were starting to loosen. Even though I visited often in the two years following my graduation, I've only been to Blacksburg twice in the past year. I only keep in touch with a handful of people that still live in the area. Then I found out that Brian Bluhm, a friend that I knew through church and the BSU, was among the victims. I started to read the biographies of the other victims on the news websites. The effect of each one of their deaths is felt far and wide. I mourn their early passing, and grieve for the family and friends that are left behind to deal with the loss.
I remember once making fun of Michael Vick when he came back to a football game to receive some sort of award. His acceptance speech consisted of about three poorly formed sentences, the last of which was "I'll always be a Hokie in my heart." Let's face it - public speaking isn't the reason he'll be remembered as an important alumnus. I remember mocking his words in the days following, and even now I'm not sure if he was being genuine or just trying to get some words out to please the crowd, but today, they resonate with me in a new and deep way.