It’s hard to imagine what life at Virginia Tech is like now. One week after 32 people were killed, we expect little more than a mixture of disbelief and sorrow. Their school year has been shattered, their campus has become a media circus and the darkness of that day will shadow Virginia Tech for years to come.
The tragedy has put forth more questions than anyone can expect to answer. As officials try to understand how it happened and try to understand the riddle that was Seung-Hui Cho, questions still remain – they will always remain in the face of senselessness.
In the absence of answers, we’re left with little more than the thought of the 32 lives that were lost that day. Some were faculty. The majority were students. Each one of them was needlessly torn from their families and stripped of their future.
In the days after this tragedy, accounts of heroism have emerged. Liviu Librescu, 76, was one such hero. Librescu, a faculty member, lost his life blocking the door to his classroom so his students could escape. Ryan Clark, 22, was another. He was among the first to die that day. According to reports, he lost his life trying to find out what the commotion was about. Presumably, he was going to help out. Another student, Waleed Shaalan, 32, a graduate student from Egypt, distracted the gunman to save the life of another. According to one student, who was playing dead when the gunman was about to discover him, Shaalan made a move to distract the gunman and saved the student’s life. Although we might never know them beyond the stories of that day, we can try to understand.
We know that these are only a few of the countless acts of courage and bravery that defined that day. In the end, no death is different from another; each is senseless and tragic. Each deserves our respect and condolences.
In honoring those who lost their lives, we’d also like to extend our heartfelt sympathy and respect to the community at Virginia Tech. We cannot know the depth of your tragedy, but it is our hope that anger does not prevail. We hope that through all of the questions, some semblance of meaning emerges from the sorrow.