Don’t know what to say

VT Solidarity Ribbon

I graduated from Virginia Tech. I am a Hokie; 1983-1988. I will state that I am not a person who lives in the past. When I graduated I moved on to graduate school and then my career and really never looked back. I think that’s what my college experience prepared me to do. I am proud of what I accomplished at Virginia Tech; I graduated with honors, made great friends, and met my wife. It was a great place to go to school. From what I have seen this week, it’s still a great place, a strong place, and I am lucky to have been associated with it. My point in all this is that I have never been back, don’t have any Tech shirts, and basically haven’t thought about it (outside of following Hokie football and basketball from a great distance) — until 4/16/07.

I have been super-busy at work this week. When I heard the initial news on Monday of a shooting at Virginia Tech, it hurt me deep inside. My first inkling came from the past-noc mailing list (we have a lot of Hokies on the past-noc team, coincidentally) and we were trying to make sure they were all ok. Luckily they are. As the events unfolded, I felt sick to my stomach, not in a “Pepto-Bismol” way, but a dull ache. I felt cold. It got worse through the day, but I only knew 20 or 22 people were dead when I left to go to a trade show. I felt terrible that I didn’t know more about what had happened.

When I got home, I was floored to find out that the death toll had jumped to 32, including the killer. I have to say that I feel so sorry for his parents. I can’t imagine how they not only have to deal with the death of their son, but also the fact that he killed 31 people. How horrible for them. I am not a parent, but I can say that I can’t imagine how horrible it must have been to have heard that people had died at Virginia Tech but not to have known who. I heard that paramedics were carrying out bodies that had cell phones ringing or vibrating. Again, horrible. The enormity of the events, and the heroics of the students and others who made sure that more people weren’t killed, really boggles my mind. I couldn’t be prouder, but I am so sad.

Yesterday, I saw the video of the convocation and wished I had been there, but it’s selfish of me to want that. I mean, the students that are there now are much more immediately affected by this, and I don’t deserve a seat at that table. But the news coverage I did see made me cry, and I wish it had been more…coverage I mean. I plan to watch the convocation after I finish writing this. I need to get it out of my system.

Boy. Now, today is Wednesday (has it only been two days?) and this story just keeps getting weirder. I am really irritated with NBC news (which I watch religiously; I never miss Countdown on MSNBC because my TiVo makes sure I can watch it when I get home every day). Today, they got a package from the killer. What did they do with it? Clearly it needed to be turned over to law enforcement authorities (once NBC had identified its relevance). But did they have to keep a copy and attach their logo to it (upper left hand corner) and play it on the news? I don’t think so. It would have been sufficient to just report that they had received it and to have described it in general terms as the rantings of a madman. They could have described the contents obliquely as well, as containing video and pictures and text. But showing it was wrong. Today, still at the trade show, my friend Richard showed me the story about the NBC package from the killer, but I really never expected to see the video, at least not until after the investigation was complete. Broadcasting the video excerpts let the killer take back the attention to himself and rip open still-raw wounds of the Hokie community. I will be sending a link to this blog to countdown@msnbc.com as soon as I finish writing this.

I still feel hollow inside. I don’t know anyone who died, but I am really angry that the good name of my school will be forever associated with “worst mass murder in American history.” I am sending as much positive energy toward Blacksburg, VA as I can, and am showing my Hokie pride (for a change) by ordering some Hokie gear from the University Bookstore.

I can’t wait for my Hokie alumni shirt and Virginia Tech sweatshirt to arrive in the mail. I am not surprised that the bookstore hasn’t processed my order yet. It will get here eventually. And when it does, I am sure I will still hurt.

Go Hokies!

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