What I Learned…

On Monday, April 16 2007, I learned at 10 am that a tragedy of monumental proportions occurred in the building I had accounting class in one year ago to the hour.

At 2 pm, I learned that everyone I knew at Tech was ok, but a lot of my friend’s friends had been lost.

By the time I went to bed Monday night/Tuesday morning, I learned that the shock of this event had not yet worn off.

On Tuesday, I learned that the utter sadness of an event like this hits your chest like a sledge hammer when that initial shock does wear off. I learned that you can shed tears because of almost any small thing to remind you of what happened.

Tuesday afternoon, I learned that the Virginia Tech student body is comprised of the most admirable and honorable people to walk a college campus, when a 30-second standing ovation was given to Dr. Steger, the VT President. Despite what media folks had said, no one that matters (the students) blamed him for what happened.

I learned that one poet can move a nation with a 45-second poem. I suspect being a poet is much tougher than any of us think.

I learned that it is possible to break down in tears listening to a chant of “Let’s Go Hokies!”

Eventually, I learned the name of the shooter. I also learned that repeating his name ever again would be a disservice to those we lost.

I learned that the media had no problem turning the shooter into a superstar by broadcasting exactly what he wanted them to broadcast. NBC does not show fans running on the field at football games, as to not encourage that type of behavior…

As I listened to fellow Hokies give interviews, I learned that we truly are as noble and respectable as I imagined. The only thing on anyone’s mind was how much hurt there was. There was no blame, only support, and every person interviewed showed that Hokie support was everywhere. I learned that our scapegoat is dead.

I learned that 60 years ago, God saved one 12-year-old boy from the Holocaust, so that in 2007, half a world away, he could save several young people by giving his life holding a door shut.

I also learned that my friends and family are incredible. Despite not being there at the time or even knowing anyone that was lost, everyone knew it was still rough for me. I imagine we all realized how wonderful our support system really is in the past week.

I learned that simply changing your Facebook picture can have a bigger impact than you think.

I have learned that everyone is a Hokie. I learned that rivalries don’t mean jack any more. I will not be able to “boo” any team from now on (a big task for myself). The outpouring of support from schools around the country has been absolutely incredible. According to my freshman handbook, a Hokie is defined as any Virginia Tech support. Everyone really is a Hokie today.

I learned that when you say “we’re here for you”, it truly helps those affected. From the banner sent to Blacksburg from Auburn to the thousands of candlelight vigils held throughout the country, each and every ounce of support made people feel like the world was with them.

I learned that the Virginia Tech community itself is just as incredible as I thought it was. There’s a reason students wanted to get back down to Blacksburg on Monday: their friends are there. All 25,000 of them. The unity of both the students and alumni has been impressive to say the least.

I learned that facing the true tragedy is the only way to fully recover. The week of April 16, I was in Delaware on business. I debated on whether or not to return to Blacksburg on Friday, even though I had not planned on going. I learned that I was dumb for even debating. The event had been so surreal, and going down to see it made it real. Friday night was tough, as I expected. But to see everyone that was there, to be with all the people that were there to support each other, it truly helped.

I learned that I may not miss a home game this year. I cannot wait for the first “Enter Sandman” or the first blocked kick in Lane Stadium.

I learned that I am never prouder to be a Hokie than right now.

Finally, I learned that a lot of things are less important than you’d think, and a lot of things are more important that you could ever imagine.