Thursday, April 16, 2009

We Are Virginia Tech

It's difficult to believe that it's been two years since the tragic events that took place on the campus of Virginia Tech.

I'll never forget the shock and numbness, the outrage and confusion of that day. Such a flood of emotions and no way to handle it except to stay close to those around you and try your best to comfort one another.

The cell phone lines were jammed and no calls were coming in or out. In hindsight, I should have sent an e-mail to my parents, but I was preoccupied with the news and with my friends. Making sure everyone was accounted for was both difficult and deeply concerning. Thankfully everyone that I knew directly was safe.

I'll always keep the experiences of that week with me. It was an incredibly dark time, but in the darkness there were moments of light that were so incredibly uplifting.

Case in point, the convocation the day after the shootings was extremely sad, but also so very helpful. Nikki Giovanni's speech remains one of the most inspirational things that I've heard. Afterwards, when the, "LET'S GO HOKIES!" chant started everyone immediately joined in and I've never yelled it louder. It was such a necessary release and one that had me feeling much different when I left the ceremony.

This year is difficult because I'm not where I want to be, at my home in Blacksburg on the campus I love so very much. No matter where I am in the world, no matter where I may one day live, there's never anywhere I'd rather be than in the heart of the Hokie Nation.

I still think about what happened on April 16, 2007 almost every day. It's important to remember the 32 brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, fathers and mothers of the Hokie family who lost their lives on that tragic day, but it's also important to live our lives for those who no longer can.

Please, spend some time in self reflection today. Be grateful for all that you have and make the most of your life because you never know when it might be cut short.

Justin Cates

Virginia Tech, Class of 2008

Ut Prosim

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