Wow. Five years? Has it really been five years since that day that changed every Hokie’s life. That day that brought heartache and tragedy into countless families, not just of the 32 killed but those injured that had to put their lives back together with emotional and physical scars.
That day that to me was almost as profound and as devastating as 9/11. That day that shook my Hokie pride and for a few moments, made me shameful of being a Hokie.
But from that, that day brought us all together, and instead of dividing us, made us even stronger as a family and as Hokie Nation. From those few moments of shame came an even stronger love and pride in my alma mater.
But most of all THIS day for me is about reflecting on the lives that were taken, and those that were injured. Hokies who lost their life for no other reason that sitting in their dorm, or going to their class, or going to work.
THIS day is about the heroes like Liviu Librescu, who barricaded the door with his body so his students could escape out the window. He took five bullets before a fatal shot took his life. All but one of his students escaped.
THIS day is about reflection on how in many ways time has stood still. It doesn’t feel like five years ago to me. The pain I feel for those 32 victims, and the frustrations I feel about ‘why did this happen’ are still as fresh as they were five years ago.
THIS day is about me doing what I’ve done every Day of Remembrance — taking the day off work, reading the bio of each victim to learn about them, and thinking of them. And each year I decide I’ll do something to honor them and their lives.
This past Saturday I, along with almost 7,000 other Hokies and friends and family, participated in the 3.2 Run for Remembrance. Each year it brings thousands of Hokies to campus to run for the fallen. To remember, and to inspire.
I’ll admit it, I’m not in the best shape. My training routine in the weeks leading up consisted of quarter mile jogs while coaching my baseball team. I hadn’t run more than a half mile consecutively in probably a year. But I ran for 32 on Saturday, all 32. And outside of a brief logjam at Lane Stadium while walking through the tunnel onto the football field, I jogged the entire way, and ran the entire last mile and a half. That may not mean much to those of you that run regularly, but it meant a lot to me. I wanted to quit on many occasions, but pushed through. It is extremely trivial, but in my mind finishing that race was my way of honoring the victims. I was pushing myself, relishing the life I am blessed to have.
I hope to do more to honor those 32 Hokies taken from us in the future. Something meaningful. But a journey of a thousands miles begins with one step, and that was mine. Let’s all reflect today on those that were taken from us, and find the drive to do something meaningful, if not for them, or something else, for yourself.
I’m a Hokie, and I’m damn proud of it. WE ARE VIRGINIA TECH. WE WILL PREVAIL. Bless all 32. I’ll never forget you, we’ll never forget you.
Interesting Note: According to Jay Poole (ran the Office of Recovery and Support at VT) in this WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE, all 26 surviving students who were injured in Norris Hall returned to Virginia Tech and all graduated.