For My Hokies

I wrote this Facebook post on April 16, 2013, the sixth anniversary of the Virginia Tech tragedy and the day after the bombings at the Boston Marathon.

It’s something we think about all the time. That cold April day and 32 remarkable people who were taken too soon. It’s hard to hear the word “massacre” associated with our alma mater, because for me and so many others, Virginia Tech is associated with anything but that. We think of a beautiful campus and a friendly small town with an affinity for anything and everything maroon and orange. A place where we made lifelong friends, learned from life changing mentors, had the happiest of memories, and united with the most spirited of student body.

Blacksburg is a very special place — you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who doesn’t feel the same way. It’s difficult to know that something so horrific and sad and senseless happened in a place that we all called home. And after yesterday’s events in Boston, it’s heartbreaking that violence like this takes place time after time again, and that innocent people, whether they are running marathons to help raise money to find a cure to cancer or attending class on a Monday morning to learn and become the engineers and the architects of tomorrow — people trying to achieve good in this world — are the victims.

But in those trying days that followed that awful event six years ago, I remember feeling overwhelmed with pride and gratitude for my Hokie community. We came together to mourn and try to make sense of a terrible tragedy, and we came out of it with strength, hope, and grace. It was also through the outpouring of support from family, friends, faraway communities, and even the most unassuming of strangers that our tiny town in the Blue Ridge Mountains was able to heal. Through the darkest of hours, I witnessed humanity at its best.

It’s amazing how powerful our capacity to love and embrace one another is, and I feel fortunate to have experienced it. It was then, at the end of my freshman year, standing together with my classmates, my teammates, and a community in disbelief but with the resolve to be better because of it, that I knew Virginia Tech was where I was meant to be.

I have come to learn it’s not something I expect others to really understand, but I hope people take time today to reflect and think of these victims’ families, because this day is never easy. We will always carry 32 in our hearts and live our lives better because they weren’t able to. Especially on days like today, I feel honored and so incredibly lucky to be a Hokie.

“We will prevail. We will prevail. We will prevail. We are Virginia Tech.”

4/16/2007

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