Tomorrow marks the 10th anniversary of the shooting at Virginia Tech. I was on campus when it happened, but I was fortunate to not be directly impacted that day. All of the pictures are mine, and because of that may also be a little grainy.
The weather on Monday was very typical of Blacksburg because it was cold with snow flurries in April. The previous weekend had been warm and sunny. I spent the weekend putting on an outdoor event for the Business college, as well as visiting some of Steve’s family who were in town. I lived on campus my Junior year, but didn’t have class on Mondays until much later.
I received the emails from Tech, but all the details I received the first few hours came from the news like everyone else. Steve was in lockdown in a class, but completely safe. One of my former suitemates came running in as we were watching the news. She had been in class in Norris, and as the police were clearing the building they told her class to run and keep running. I remember sitting on the couch in disbelief as the numbers kept climbing and climbing. We finally emerged late in the day for food and to walk around. The campus was so quiet.
Our group of friends attended the convocation the next day. President Bush and Governor Kaine attended, and it ended with the Nikki Giovanni’s now famous speech.
Vigils, memorials, and signs started going up around campus, including the very start of what is now the April 16th memorial on the drillfield. A smaller group of us attended the candlelight vigil on the drillfield on the night of the 17th.
Classes were canceled for the week, so many of my friends left campus the day after the shooting. I chose to stay because I felt that it was best for me to be around people going through the same thing. The week that followed was definitely a unique experience for myself and a few friends. I developed a certain disdain for the news and media as I felt they were far too aggressive with the students still on campus, including myself. I definitely experienced first-hand that people cope and handle grief in all different ways. I had to accept early on that many of them were different from mine. But most importantly, I never felt a stronger sense of community than I did on campus that week.
I attended the first anniversary events my Senior year in 2008. The memorial was finished by then, and looked so much different from the picture above. However, this is my favorite picture I took that day.
We are Virginia Tech.