Day: April 18, 2007

Today, everybody is a Hokie

 A cop I know cried when he saw the horror at Virginia Tech Monday.

So did others.

The media calls it as massacre.

It’s more than that.

It’s madness.

We may or may not ever know what triggered the young South Korean English major to go on a killing spree that left 32 dead before he took his own life.

How can we? Insanity, whether temporary or permanent, is difficult to explain.

As a student at Floyd County High School in the early 1960s I contemplated attending Virginia Tech (or VPI as it was known in those days). I opted instead for the Roanoke campus of the University of Virginia so I could work at The Roanoke Times.

Yet Tech remains "our university," the one right down the road, just 35 minutes away. Hokie fever runs strong here.

So does pride in the Tech engineering school, long recognized as one of the best in the country.

When an escaped prisoner killed a security guard and a cop and threatened the Tech campus last fall, we held our breath and then breathed a sigh of relief when police captured him.

When the first reports of a shooting at a dorm surfaced Monday morning, we said "oh no, not again." As more details emerged, shock turned to horror and then revulsion.

I’ve witnessed and been a part of too much death in my lifetime. I have photographed death through my camera lens and taken lives in service to my country.

The nightmares have lessened over the years but they remain in the subconscious, ready to surface.

Monday’s carnage triggered far too many memories and a sleepless night.

Those who died must be mourned. Those whose heroic acts saved the lives of others must be remembered and honored.

Already, those who exploit tragedy in order to promote their political agendas show their true colors with callous disregard for simple human decency.

There will be time to deal with such opportunists.

Not now.

I’ve had my fights with Hokie fanatics over the years.

Not today.

A cartoon that shows a crying Hokie bird being comforted says it all: Today, everyone is a Hokie.

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