I am not a Virginia Tech Alum. I did go to school there, but my degree is from a small Christian school in Kentucky. While I would not trade that degree or my experience at Asbury University, I would still love to have that VT degree after my name. I did attend there, but not long enough to be considered alumni. I am, however, a Hokie at heart, having grown up only 25 minutes away. Truth be told, when I was growing up it was more like an hour away. At least until the four-lane road was built.
Today, April 16, 2012, marks five years since that fateful day when 32 students and faculty were killed by a deranged madman.
I remember that day. When the news first broke that morning, we clung to the Internet and news outlets trying to find out what was going on. A friend on another website spoke of being locked down in his building for hours. But he was safe. I remember watching as the intern in our office and later my high school aged son tried in vain to reach their friends, to reach anyone. Before it was over 32 students and faculty were dead in what remains one of the most horrific shooting attacks in our nation’s history.
We grieve in different ways. Some have called for tighter gun control. But gun control will not stop the actions of a madman. Reality is that guns were already forbidden on campus. It’s senseless to speculate about what could have been different if over students or faculty were armed. They could have saved lives. They could have caused more deaths.
And much has been said about the response of the University. Court cases continue, although thankfully the fine from the U.S. Department of Education was overturned. It was, after all, none of their business.
Whether or not they did the right thing is not for me to decide. But University officials made their decisions with the information that they had. They were not purposefully negligent. After all, what happened was unthinkable, it was inconceivable. It was something we would not have imagined in our worst nightmares.
Pundits will argue, debates will rage. But today, we remember:
Emily J. Hilscher, 19, a freshman from Woodville in Rappahannock County, Virginia
Ryan Clark, 22, a senior from Martinez, Georgia.
Ross Abdallah Alameddine, 20, a sophomore from Saugus, Massachusetts.
Brian Bluhm, a graduate student from Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Austin Cloyd, a freshman from Blacksburg, Virginia.
Matthew Gwaltney, from Chester, Virginia, United States.
Caitlin Hammaren, 19, a sophomore from Westtown, New York.
Jeremy Herbstritt, 27, a graduate student from Bellefonte, Pennsylvania.
Rachael Elizabeth Hill, 18, a freshman from Richmond, Virginia.
Matthew La Porte, 20, a freshman from Dumont, New Jersey.
Jarrett Lane, a senior from Narrows, Virginia.
Henry Lee, a freshman from Roanoke, Virginia.
Partahi Mamora Halomoan Lumbantoruan, 34, a postgraduate student from Medan, Indonesia.
Lauren McCain, 20, of Hampton, Virginia.
Daniel Patrick O’Neil, a graduate student from Lincoln, Rhode Island.
Juan Ramon Ortiz, 26, a graduate student from Bayamón, Puerto Rico.
Minal Panchal, 26, a graduate student from Mumbai, India.
Daniel Pérez Cueva, 21, a student from Lima, Peru.
Erin Peterson, 18, a freshman from Centreville, Virginia.
Michael Pohle, 23, a senior from Raritan Township, New Jersey.
Julia Pryde, 23, a graduate student from Middletown, New Jersey.
Mary Karen Read, 19, a freshman from Annandale, Virginia.
Reema Joseph Samaha, 18, a freshman from Centreville, Virginia.
Leslie Sherman, 20, a sophomore from Springfield, Virginia.
Maxine Turner, a senior from Vienna, Virginia, United States.
Nicole White, a junior from Carrollton, Virginia.
Christopher Jamie Bishop, 35, Instructor, Foreign Languages and Literatures.
Jocelyne Couture-Nowak, Instructor, Foreign Languages. A French instructor from Montréal, Quebec, Canada.
Kevin Granata, 45, Professor, Engineering Science & Mechanics.
Liviu Librescu, 76, Professor, Engineering Science & Mechanics, and Holocaust survivor. Killed while holding off the shooter so his students could escape out the window.
G. V. Loganathan, 51, Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering.
A Proclamation by Governor Robert F. McDonnell
Virginia Tech Remembrance Day
WHEREAS, on the morning of April 16, 2007, a tragedy of immense magnitude and senselessness befell the campus of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University; and
WHEREAS, the lives of 32 individuals from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University were hastily taken, leaving absences that will never be filled and a profound sense of sorrow in the lives of those impacted; and
WHEREAS, the community continues to mourn those who perished, we also honor those individuals wounded as they individually and collectively strive to prevail through this tragedy; and
WHEREAS, we recognize and thank local, state, and federal first responders who courageously answered the call of duty in an effort to prevent the further loss of life; and
WHEREAS, the citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia join with those from across the country and around the world in their thoughts and prayers to honor the cherished memories of those who lost their lives and those wounded; and
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Robert F. McDonnell, do hereby recognize April 16, 2012, as VIRGINIA TECH
REMEMBRANCE DAY in the COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA, and I call this observance to the attention of all our citizens.