Friday, April 27, 2007
People associated with Virginia Tech really love the university. That has been clear to me over the past two weeks as we have interacted with others and watched the community through the lens of the news media. People who have been interviewed on TV (including President Steger and other officials) have represented the spirit and pride I've always felt among the Hokie community. I feel proud to be a part of that.
It's good to know that Virginia Tech will survive despite the horrible act of a student who was hurting and dangerously disconnected from reality. Times like this seem to make our community even stronger. Sometimes I wish that feeling of closeness could last, but it is already starting fade as the wounds heal and things start to return to normal. I spoke to a close friend about the incident on the phone the other night. It was the first time I had discussed it in a couple of days, and the feeling of heaviness returned, making me realize that it had already started to dissipate in the midst of my normal routine.
I don't want to be misunderstood - Virginia Tech is a special place, but it isn't any better than any other university out there. With all of the attention that was focused on us, I don't want people to get the feeling that we are better or more important than anybody else. The support I've felt from members of other university communities has shown me that there are many places out there that could overcome and grow from an experience like this. Even schools like UVA and WVU who have at times been our bitter rivals have shown us love - I have a lot of respect for that. It shows that all of us understand what is truly important and what is merely different colored shirts that we wear.
So to all my fellow Hokies, be proud of your university. Support it and talk about it as you go through the process of grieving and healing. But don't let your pride turn into superiority or condescension. We needed our time in the spotlight and the attention and support of the nation, but don't feel like the rest of the world owes you anything more.
And to the rest of you, thank you so much for your support. We need it. We appreciate it. Know that if you go through trying times (and we pray that you don't), you will have a nation full of Hokies on your side. You aren't our enemies or rivals when it comes to the things that truly matter. But don't think that we'll take it easy on you if you bring your football team to Lane Stadium.