I’m not sure I’m the most eloquent writer but I’m going to give it a shot today….
I didn’t have to check my calendar to know what day today is. April 16th. The 6-year anniversary of the shooting at Virginia Tech. I don’t feel like writing about how it felt to be on campus that day, the sadness that came afterwards or the way it still feels so many years later. I keep those feelings tucked away inside. Instead, I would rather write about what I have learned in the past 6 years.
I always loved being a student at Virginia Tech but I didn’t understand the depth of what it meant to be a Hokie until after April 16th. No one expects or is prepared to experience that kind of evil and when you do, your world stops. I was afraid of how we would move on after such a tragedy. I was afraid that the school I loved so much would become the face of bitterness, sadness and despair. But the opposite actually happened.
Our campus became resilient. The courageous students around me gave me hope and inspiration.
In a time when our world could have fallen apart, the students at VT stuck together. Volunteers in the drill field gave us hugs. Professors offered sympathy and kindness. Students were able to leave school for the rest of the semester but many stayed. We supported each other. And our entire country rallied around us.
There will undoubtedly be more darkness in this life because there will always be evil. But in that darkness, we have to look for the light. I had to remind myself of this when I learned of the incidents yesterday at the Boston Marathon. A sense of hopelessness crept up inside of me but I had to remember: look for the light. Because whether it is a Holocaust survivor blocking the doorway of his classroom in Norris Hall so VT students could escape the building, or a teacher at Sandy Hook lying to a gunman to save her young students, or bystanders at the Boston Marathon running towards danger to help others, there will always be light. We have to look for the light. We have to be the light.
Six years later, I often think of Virginia Tech’s motto: Ut Prosim. That I May Serve. I want to show people that even in times of tragedy, we have to find a way to move forward. I want to live my life in a way that honors the 32 people who did not have the opportunity to do so.