I was sitting in the same place yesterday when I heard about the Bloodbath in Blacksburg as I was when I heard about the World Trade Center…at work at my desk. Soon the same sense of horror and disbelief welled up.
When I got home SWMBO was crying. After a day of blanket coverage, what pushed her to tears was the sight of a young man, shot in the arm and released from the hospital, being interviewed by Brian Williams. The young man, knowing he would be the target of the media, had gone home and put on a necktie, “just like a good Virginia boy would do.” When msnbc replayed the interview, I found myself crying, too.
Much as I would like to say I am a Hokie today, I don’t think it is right to say it. I didn’t have friends in the line of fire, or children at that school. I don’t have the ancient filial ties with the school. I haven’t paid the real or emotional dues to claim Hokiedom today. While I grieve for and with the rest of Hokie Nation, I do so with a different contingent and for a variety of reasons. You see, today across this country we are all Virginians today, and today I have many reactions…
I grieve for the souls of the dead, young men and women, their lives cut short in a burst of senseless and unreasoning violence, their potential and future extinguished in a puff of blue smoke and a whiff of cordite.
I pray for the survivors, thay they find some peace after their harrowing morning.
I mourn for the extended Virginia Tech family, who now have to live with a massacre that will take its place alongside Columbine, Waco, and Oklahoma City, and an event which will mar the campus memory forever.
I mourn for college students everywhere. They have lost a piece of their expectation of safety on campus no matter where they matriculate.
I pray for those partisan hacks, zealots, and ideologues who were trying to make political hay of various shades even before parents were notified. May they find it in their hearts to back off and let these familes bury the dead before trying to score cheap political points off parental grief.
I mourn for Virginia and for Blacksburg. I always thought that Virginia would never be the site of such madness, and if it happend it would be in the more urban portions of the state. I never would have dreamed it would be Blacksburg. Virginia is on a lot lists. The Mother of Presidents, Birthplace of nation, home of the longest continuously meeting legislative body in the world. Our young men and women have fallen across the globe in defense of the ideas this commonwealth and country were founded on. Now our name is entered on a much darker, more horrifying roll call, with our young falling needlessly, and without reason, so close to home.
I cry for my children. WMD #1 was born weeks prior to Columbine, WMD #2 was not even six months old on 9/11. They will reach adulthood in a world far different than the one I discovered the day I first legally bought beer. I don’t know that the world is more evil now than it was when i was born in 1959. The twenty years prior to my birth saw genocide in Europe, Russia, and China on a scale of monumental proportions and all in the name of specific national goals, so it wasn’t exactly a bed of roses. But somehow the violence seemed less immediate than it does now, and far less random.
I grieve for us all, for having another little ideal destroyed, for having another perceived refuge of safety wrenched from us.
I keep hearing folks say we must let “the healing process” begin. That term was used a lot last night. I don’t know about that. I don’t know that we will ever heal. I think at best we recover and learn to live with the scars.
Ultimately, though, we simply do as Dilsey was described at the conclusion of The Sound and the Fury: We Endure
God bless the dead, God bless their families, and God bless us all.