This day hits me hard. Every single year.
Eight years ago today, I was at work at Enterprise, just going about my day. I vividly remember walking back into my office from running an errand or helping a customer, and our lot attendant telling me there was a shooting in Blacksburg.
I don’t remember his exact words. I remember thinking he must be mistaken. I remember walking over to the TV and being horrified by what I saw.
I remember frantically dialing every person I knew in Blacksburg, only to be greeted by busy signals, for hours upon hours. I remember wishing my office didn’t block Facebook so I could see if everyone I knew was ok. I remember watching it all unfold on television, unable to move from my spot. I remember the relief when I found that I was one of the luckiest ones, fortunate to not personally know anyone who was killed or injured.
Or was I lucky at all? Were any of us?
Because the truth of the matter is, I did know them. I still know them. I knew them as my fellow Hokies. The people I saw walking across the drillfield. The people I served when I was working in Dining Services. The friends of my friends. The professors that worked hard to teach my classmates. The people cheering in the stands with me in Lane Stadium. The cadets walking by me in formations. Everyone who was hurt or injured had chosen to be a Hokie. Everyone had that in common with me, and therefore I knew them.
So, today is a complicated day for me. It’s a day of sadness, remembrance, and wishing for what might have been. At the same time, it’s a day I’m proud to be a Hokie, to be part of this community.
I will never forget them.
“While 32 of our friends and classmates are in Heaven trying to explain what a Hokie is, I stand here sure in the fact that I wouldn’t want to be anything else.”
Live for 32.