Today was by far the most trying day I've experienced in my life. On April 16, 2007 33 people were killed, with 15 more wounded on the Virginia Tech Campus. I know that this is likely not new information, but I repeat it just to add strength to my message. There are not words to properly express just what feelings this day has brought. Surreal doesn't even begin to describe it. I've spoken to more people on the phone today than I have in any day I can remember. The hours spent in the dorm just waiting and watching, seeing the events unfold and hearing the number of dead and wounded climb higher was the epitome of helplessness. This was a tragedy the likes of which have never been seen before, and hopefully will never be seen again. We heard it over and over again. The worst school shooting in US history, they said at first. Then, the worst mass murder in US history as the numbers climbed. Any attempt to convey the emotions and thoughts which barraged my mind today would be futile, vain, and ultimately trite. This was a dark day, near black as night.
That said, I have every confidence in this university and this community. I believe this town is capable of rising to the occasion and overcoming this monumental tragedy. I have no idea what the coming days and weeks hold in store, or even the slightest notion of what will happen as time transpires. There is no set procedure for handling something of this magnitude, by sheer virtue of the fact that it has never happened. In spite of that, I feel we, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, students, faculty and staff all, and the town of Blacksburg, are capable of bonding together to lift each other over this hurdle. We will pay our dues and respects to those deceased. We MUST pay our dues and our respects. Anything less would be a mark upon our record.
It is only then that we can hope to begin the rebuilding and healing process. It will be a long time before any student can step into Norris Hall without immediately drawing to mind thoughts of the events which occurred in that building today. I can only imagine what those who live on the 4th floor of West Ambler Johnston Hall must feel now, and likely for nights to come, in regards to what transpired there as well. However, as time passes and we slowly heal, these things will become easier. And until that time, if we band together, teachers and students, all majors and classes, then we will be able to carry on our work as an academic institution. That is the best way we can hope to honor the memories of those murdered here for years to come. We must continue to learn, to advance the knowledge of our society and our species, that we may continue to understand the universe in all its parts. This applies not only to this university, but to every university in the United States and the world, present and future. I leave you all with one final plea from a freshman at this university, a plea echoed from every corner of this university by every student, faculty and staff member, all who witnessed this tragedy. I beg of you, on Tuesday, April 17, 2007, and for as long afterward as you may be convinced to do so, wear any maroon and orange you can find in remembrance of those innocents slain here. To borrow from several sources throughout the day, for the sake of those lost, put aside your allegiances and college ties for at least a short time. For today, we are all Hokies.
In most sincere regards and hope,
Virginia Tech Class of 2010