Six years ago on April 16, 2007, there were thirty two people who went to campus. Two hours away, I did the exact same thing. Those thirty two people never returned.
I will never forget April 16, 2007. I was a freshman at James Madison University. My freshman year was coming to a close and I was finally getting used to being so far away from home. It was a Monday, which meant I had my Spanish class at 9:05 and my literature class at 10:10. My 11:15 writing class was cancelled because we were having individual conferences with my professor about our final papers.
After my literature class, I went back to my dorm and signed on AIM. I instant messaged my RA upstairs and asked what he was doing. He wrote back, "I'm watching the news. Someone got shot at Tech." I replied back, "I have friends at Tech." He said, "Everyone does."
I tell my roommate Rachael that there was a shooting at Virginia Tech and she asks where that is. She was from Pennsylvania. I tell her that it is just two short hours down the highway.
I head towards the dining hall to meet my friend Jessica for lunch. I meet her somewhere between the dining halls and I tell her there was a shooting at Tech and that one person has died. We get in line, grab some foods, and sit down to watch the televisions in Top Dog.
Jessica looks at the TV and looks at me and asks me what I said about it just being one person who had passed away because the headline on the television said 10. I told no, it was just 1. She said "No, it says 10 casualties. Doesn't that mean ten people dead?"
I look at the TV and see the increased count. I think, "What in the world is going on here?" I noticed that the dining hall was way too quiet for a Monday lunch hour. Usually people would be shouting to friends and talking about what they had done that past weekend.
I look behind me and notice that almost no one is in line for food. People are just standing around behind those seated at the tables; their eyes were glued to the televisions. This image is burned in my mind.
I called my mother because I talked to her every day of my freshman year and I was surprised she had not called me. Dinwiddie schools were on Spring Break so she had actually just woken up. When she answered the phone, I asked why she had not called me. She was confused. "Mom, there was a shooting at Virginia Tech."
Jessica begins attempting to call our high school friend, Sarah to no avail. I comfort her by telling her that I am sure everyone is trying to get in touch with everyone so phone calls probably were not going through.
I remember going to work that day at the library and not doing any work at all. I sat on my computer refreshing the news pages of various websites, watching horrified as the number of those who passed away kept rising. I stayed on Facebook, watching as all my Virginia Tech friends changed their profile pictures to the remembrance ribbon. If they changed their profile pictures, I knew they were okay.
On April 16, 2007, though I was two hours away from the place where that tragedy took place, my way of life was threatened. The world was not a safe place. Those people all went to campus that day, not knowing it would be their last. A handful of the 32 that lost their lives that day were freshman at Virginia Tech. They were just like me, starting out their education, careers and what was supposed to be the best four years of their lives.
Six years ago and I still remember so much from that day. Six years ago and I am still shocked for this tragedy took place. Six years ago today and my heart still hurts for the Hokies.
4.16.07 neVer forgeT