Shock and Horror at Virginia Tech: April 16, 2007
On this day the world has stopped. War means little. Gas prices don’t matter, and life’s rough spots seem petty. Today 32 innocent people have been taken from us. Future engineers, leaders, mothers, and fathers lost at the hands of an insane gunman.There will never be an explanation that satisfies the families and loved ones associated with this tragedy. There will never be an answer to the question of, why? Not really. Law enforcement officials will try to fill in the holes and provide explanations, but they will do little to take away the pain that will endure a lifetime for those left to pick up the pieces.
Prayers don’t seem like enough, and yet they are the best we have to offer. Faith will carry the day for many that witnessed this horror. Faith will prevail in the midst of despair.
In the coming days much will be written about this day. Television will replay images from pictures and a cell phone non-stop, while parading students that were there, and loved ones of those lost, across our screens until there is no one left to speak.
Many will lash out at the police. Many will have to place blame on someone or something so that they can find an explanation that will allow them to go to bed at night with the lights off. The shock will turn to anger then despair, and then a hurt that requires unending mourning. Little will comfort those that suffered losses on this day. The police, however, should receive our empathy as well.
It is difficult to imagine the horror and disparity officers felt while arriving on the scene. All the training in the world cannot prepare a person for the reality of a mass shooting-suicide that marks the darkest day in modern American history that didn’t fall on September 11. Police officers are charged with saving, protecting, and serving people. They do not sign up to pick through carnage, and yet they will call it their duty. They are hurting today and they will carry that with them for years to come. This day changed their lives just as it did the entire VA Tech family. They need and deserve our prayers.
The greatest struggle to understand what has taken place may rest with the explanation surrounding reasons why the university did not lock the school down once two bodies were discovered murdered at 7:15 am. While a “person of interest” was quickly indentified, little more was known. Police did not have anyone in custody. The person was known to live off campus and it would take time to reach that person’s home. Yet, administration concluded that the most prudent thing would be to allow students to reach classes two hours later and lock them down than if need be.
The president’s defense was embedded in the notion that they couldn’t accomplish a lock down in a timely manner. In the end, VA Tech will investigate what took place. They will make changes. They will do everything in their power to make sure a day like this will not happen again. VA Tech is one of the finest universities in America and nothing that happened today changes that. It is a safe school, with an excellent police force. Finger pointing cannot bring back what has been taken from us today. Healing will require strength, understanding, and compassion.
The truth of the matter is, the only person who deserves blame for this day’s event is the one who didn’t have the guts to be arrested, but instead took the cowardly way out by turning a gun on himself. So be it.
Today, the world has stopped. Today, we are all part of the VA Tech family and we shall grieve together. Today, our hearts are one.
Stephen Winslow is the executive editor of Conservative Viewpoints.