Tomorrow will mark seven years since the tragedy struck.
I was in 8th grade that year. I remember flurries and it being oddly cold for an April morning. I made it through my first period and was in algebra 2 when we were notified that the school was going on lock down. Our teachers were told to not give any information as to why we were on lock down or even turn the televisions on. No one thought anything of it. We went through the lesson for the next day then were allowed to play card games for the rest of the time. Hours had passed, we thought nothing of it. Every once in a while we would see one of the police officers walking through the hall, but we would only catch glimpses. We would mention what we thought was happening and then go right back into playing games. A classmate was able to get in contact with his mom; without the teacher listening, he told us that a shooting occurred on tech in the engineering department, but didn’t have any more information. “Okay,” I thought, “if it’s engineering then at least my mom is safe.” My thoughts then immediately went to Brian, one of my brothers best friends who happened to be an engineering student, but only for a brief second. We continued to play games, too young and oblivious to what was happening outside the walls of our school. In the early afternoon we were released from the lock down; we only had one period left in our day. No one in my next class had any more information of what had been happening on the tech campus that day. All activities for that day were canceled. I thought nothing of it. I got a note from my teacher saying that my mom would be picking me up.
As class let out I went immediately to the pick up area to find my mom; she was one of the first cars in the line. It was one of the only times I have ever seen my mom weep openly. She was always so strong and resilient; I didn’t understand what was going on. “There’s been a shooting in the engineering hall,” she told me. “What about Brian? Is he alright? Has Nicholas gotten in contact with him?” “He’s alright, he wasn’t in Norris today,” she replied, also informing me that she had personally be in touch with him. I was still unaware of the significance of the events that had unfolded that day. I sat in silence for the remainder of the ride home, unsure of what to say as the tears started to form. As usual, I got straight on the computer when we arrived home and my mom turned on the nightly news. I began to see the stories of what had happened over the internet. I couldn’t imagine that it was actually happening. Everything felt, and still feels, so surreal about that whole week. My mom told me I shouldn’t watch so much news, as it would not be healthy for me.
We had the week off of school. I spent much of the time with my mom, following her to the events that were being held around campus. I went to the candlelight vigil at the end of the week; I was moved by just how resilient our small town was, and just how much Tech is a part of the community. I witnessed as the town, and even the state gathered around the campus in support of the community.
As I have grown older, I have become more aware of the impact that the tragedy had on not only me, but also the town and the entire country. While I am not the fondest of most of the people that I went through school with, Blacksburg will always be a part of who I am. Blacksburg is centered around Virginia Tech; it is everything to the town, and because of this, Tech will always be a part of who I am. I am so proud to be a Hokie, as well as a Ram; no one can take away the pride I have for both schools. I may have been young, and I may have thought nothing of it when I was in class on that April morning, but the events of that day and the way that the town supported Tech have played a part in shaping who I am and my beliefs.
After that day, I listened to my mom talk about everything that unfolded from those events, including trials that came as a result. I heard about the installation of the new security measures, as well as the new alerts that they send out. While I know that many people aren’t fond of our monthly sirens tests at VCU, I am very grateful for them. Tests like these are needed on every campus, and can bring so much help if a tragedy ever struck. Because of the events of that day, I have seen what it is truly like to care for one another. I have also learned how incredibly important it is to be aware of people around you who you may see all the time but not speak to, as well as being aware of those around you who may be in need of help. My thoughts will always go out to the community of VT and Blacksburg when April rolls around. Nikki Giovanni said it best in her convocation speech, We Remember,
"We are Virginia Tech.
The Hokie Nation embraces our own and reaches out with open heart and hands to those who offer their hearts and minds. We are strong, and brave, and innocent, and unafraid. We are better than we think and not quite what we want to be. We are alive to the imaginations and the possibilities. We will continue to invent the future through our blood and tears and through all our sadness.
We are the Hokies.
We will prevail.
We will prevail.
We will prevail.
We are Virginia Tech.”